Global Warming to be Touchy Issue at G-8 Summit

President Bush's upcoming meeting with leading industrial nations is marked by the contentious issue of global warming. He is proposing the U.S. and other nations set a long-term goal for lowering greenhouse gases. But European leaders want a commitment that emissions of heat-trapping gases be cut in half over 40 years.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And that summit is the annual meeting of leaders from seven Western nations, plus Russia. A major item on the agenda is also on our agenda this morning: different ways to fight global warming. President Bush has said he'll take a proposal to his fellow world leaders. He wants a meeting of the nations that produce the most greenhouse gases ranging from the United States to China.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Under my proposal, by the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. And to meet this goal, we must help developing countries harness the power of technology.

MONTAGNE: That's the president's proposal. Even some of his critics praised President Bush for joining the debate over what to do about climate change, but the Europeans at that meeting have been pushing for something more. They want a commitment to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases in half over 40 years. And in the U.S., Democratic representative Ed Markey sees the president's plan as a delaying tactic.

Representative ED MARKEY (Democrat, Massachusetts): His new plan is to discuss voluntary goals for another 18 months, guaranteeing that he will end his eight-year term with the United States' contribution to global warming pollution considerably worse than when he took office.

MONTAGNE: Again, Democratic Congressman Ed Markey.

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Climate Change, Africa on Table at G-8 Summit

Dispatches From the G8

NPR reporters covering President Bush's Europe trip and the G8 Summit in Germany, June 6-8, provide an insider's view.

Map of President Bush's Europe trip. i i

President Bush plans stops at several nations while on his trip to the G8 Summit. Lindsay Mangum, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lindsay Mangum, NPR
Map of President Bush's Europe trip.

President Bush plans stops at several nations while on his trip to the G8 Summit.

Lindsay Mangum, NPR

Climate change, the Middle East peace process, health and poverty in Africa and global trade are among the issues likely to be the center of debate and discussion at the 33rd annual G-8 conference.

This year's Group of Eight Summit — bringing together the leaders of Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — runs June 6-8 in Heiligendamm, Germany.

Germany holds the G-8 presidency for 2007, so its government and Chancellor Angela Merkel define the issues on the table at the meeting.

The United States first launched what is now known as the G-8 in 1974 in an effort to better strategize about the global economy and political issues. It was initially called the "Library Group" and included top officials from the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. As representatives from other countries were quickly added, it became the G-6 and, then, the G-7. It was not until 1998, when Russia was officially welcomed, that the consortium became known as the G-8.

The eight countries involved together account two-thirds of the world's economic output, according to the U.S. State Department. Because it has the smallest economy, Russia does not participate in financial discussions.

While the agenda for this year's meeting has not been finalized, the following topics likely will be areas of focus for the Group of Eight, which aims to improve the reliability of the global economy and assist less-advantaged parts of the world:

  • World Climate: Environmental issues tend to be discussed heavily at the G-8 conference. According to NPR reports, Germany is likely to push for significant measures to curb global warming, with energy efficiency among key points. The United States is expected to have a more conservative approach toward this issue. Last week, President Bush propsed a new plan for reducing greenhouse gases that would include talks with China and India. The Bush Administration has held off on signing the Kyoto Treaty, citing the need for these two countries to participate.
  • Global Trade: Germany has placed great emphasis in its overall agenda on stability in world trade and in setting forth policy aimed at making markets more transparent, reducing imbalances, stabilizing investment conditions and encouraging innovation.
  • Issues in Africa: Since assuming the G-8 presidency in January, Merkel has put emphasis on helping the continent with reforms geared at reducing poverty, political corruption and the spread of HIV and AIDS.
  • Middle East Peace Process: Germany has been outspoken about the importance of the world's role in aiding peace talks.
  • Other issues that could reach the table include social developments related to globalization, proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons, ongoing battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions, and global terrorism.

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