July 8, 2008 / 11:30 AM / 12 years ago

Big emerging nations demand G8 greenhouse gas cuts

(For more G8 summit stories, click on [G7/G8]) (Adds details throughout)

By Lucy Hornby

SAPPORO, Japan, July 8 (Reuters) - Five big emerging economies on Tuesday staked out tough positions on greenhouse gas emissions and food security, ahead of talks on climate change with rich countries in the Group of Eight.

In a statement, the five nations urged the G8 countries to shoulder their own responsibilities on climate change by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Mexico, Brazil, China, India and South Africa also urged all developed countries to commit themselves to absolute emission reductions based on a medium-term target of a 25-40 percent cut below 1990 levels by 2020.

Negotiations for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions must take "into account historical responsibility and respective capacities as a fair and just approach", the five countries said in a joint declaration.

"We also urge the international community, especially developed countries, to promote sustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles responsive to mitigation requirements."

The five set out their position during a meeting prior to joining the G8 for discussions on Wednesday, the final day of the rich countries’ annual summit on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Earlier, G8 leaders said they would work with nearly 200 states in United Nations climate change talks to adopt a goal of at least halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The G8 also said mid-term goals would be needed to achieve that target, without specifying a numerical goal.

But the South African environment minister said the G8 goal was an "empty slogan", while the five said developed countries must "take the lead in achieving ambitious and absolute greenhouse gas emissions reductions".

The five said rich countries should spend 0.5 percent of their gross domestic product on helping developing countries to adapt to climate change, and fulfil commitments to allocate 0.7 percent of gross national product to aid.


The five leaders, whose nations together account for 42 percent of the world’s population, also sounded the alarm on rising food prices but rejected the idea that their rapidly growing economies were the cause.

"The steep rise in food prices raises the risk of stagflation overtaking the global economy," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is also an economist, told reporters.

Developing countries were not to blame for soaring food prices, which have "added to the difficulties of the global poverty reduction efforts and affected regional stability", Chinese President Hu Jintao said in a speech to fellow heads of state.

"It is worth noting that until recently, there has been an argument stressing the so-called ‘responsibility of big developing countries’, an argument which blames the development of big developing countries for the worldwide food price rise," Hu said.

"This is not a responsible attitude."

Instead, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said the world needs an answer to the "financial speculation which has relevance to increases in food and energy prices".

Nonetheless, the five countries took a measured stance on biofuels, which some protesters congregating in Hokkaido blame for the rise in food prices.

China and South Africa already discourage using pricey corn for ethanol, but Brazil is the world’s top exporter of ethanol, which it makes from sugar cane.

They called for public policies on biofuels that "contribute to sustainable development" and "do not threaten food security". (Editing by David Fogarty)

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