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Oil shock helps put global warming on G8's back burner - 1 July 2008

AFP, 1 July 2008 - The Group of Eight (G8) is set to fudge its decision on climate change next week, reflecting the issue's weaker status in the absence of European campaigning and in the face of sky-high oil prices.

A year ago, on the back of blunt warnings by UN scientists, global warming dominated the G8 summit in Heiligendamm.

Overcoming fierce US resistance, Germany coaxed the rich nations' club into agreeing to "consider seriously" the aim of at least halving worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

Today, scientific concern about climate change has if anything deepened -- but the political focus on it has blurred.

"We have resources. We have technologies. But largely lacking is the political will," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday ahead of the July 7-9 gathering in Toyako, northern Japan.

European diplomats predict a summit compromise that will not take Heiligendamm's sketchy pledge any distance farther.

"What you are likely to see is a large rhetorical statement, saying that everyone is committed to reduce their emissions," agrees Phil Clapp of the green organisation the Pew Environment Group.

According to the Japanese daily Nikkei, a draft statement will seek agreement on setting country-by-country goals on reducing emissions beyond 2013. This area is already covered by UN talks on a pact to succeed the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.

The draft also says the G8 economies intend to jointly invest more than 10 billion dollars on research and development in climate-change technology, such as underground storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), Nikkei said.

On July 9, six emerging giants -- Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa -- plus Australia and South Korea will join the G8 leaders under a US initiative to accelerate agreement among economies that account for some 80 percent of all emissions.

But, meeting in Seoul on June 21 and 22, this group showed there were deep divisions between developed and emerging countries.

President George W. Bush wants fast-growing goliaths such as China and India to commit to legally-binding curbs on their emissions before the United States returns to a Kyoto-style format, which Bush rejected in 2001.

The European sources see two reasons why climate change has dwindled in clout.

. . . read the remainder of this article from the World Business Council on Sustainable Development here . . .