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G-8 joins Bush in compromise on global warming

June 08, 2007|James Gerstenzang | Times Staff Writer

HEILIGENDAMM, GERMANY — Leaders of the largest industrial nations agreed here Thursday to a compromise on efforts to combat global warming that had been sought by President Bush.

Participants in the Group of 8 summit, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, yielded to Bush's insistence that although new talks were necessary to deal with climate change, the summit must not order specific steps and targets to reduce the greenhouse gases widely blamed for rising temperatures. Bush has sought goals rather than mandatory steps.

Merkel entered the summit calling for a plan endorsed by most European leaders, under which participating nations would reduce their emissions by 2050 to half of what they were in 1990.

She came away with a goal -- a non-mandated course favored by Bush -- of such an emissions reduction, and a decision to "invite" "the major economies" -- a category that includes China, India and Brazil -- to join them.

"I can live very well with the compromise," Merkel told German television interviewers.

Though the chancellor and British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented the global warming agreement as a strong step forward, many environmentalists were not pleased.

Reinhard Buetikofer, head of Germany's opposition Green Party, said the summit statement was "juggling with words," and added, "To 'consider seriously' halving the emissions by 2050 is a triumph of vagueness and non-commitment."

At the same time, Fred Krupp, who heads the U.S. organization Environmental Defense, praised Bush's acceptance of the summit plan.

Krupp said that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) must promptly take advantage of widespread U.S. business support for a cap-and-trade program, under which polluters that have difficulty reducing emissions to stated levels can buy credits from others who reduce emissions below the limit.

Such a system is in use in Europe under the Kyoto Protocol, which expires 2012.

The plan proposed here would replace that United Nations-sponsored agreement, which the U.S. has never ratified -- the only G-8 nation not to do so. Global warming was one of the central topics of the 2 1/2 days of formal and social meetings at the summit, whose participants are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

For the second consecutive day, demonstrators opposed to economic globalization and in favor of tougher steps to counter global warming wreaked havoc on access routes to this village on the northern coast but failed to disrupt the session.

Greenpeace sent speedboats into the coastal security zone, 13 miles wide and nine miles out to sea, bringing police boats into pursuit. Two Greenpeace activists and one police officer were injured when an inflatable police boat ran over a Greenpeace boat, the police said.

Twenty-one people were arrested, and the police said they seized eight boats. Greenpeace said 11 boats were taken.

On land, about 5,000 demonstrators tried to reach a checkpoint near Heiligendamm but were pushed back by mounted police.



Times staff writers Janet Wilson in Los Angeles and Christian Retzlaff in Kuhlungsborn, Germany, contributed to this report.

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