ALTHOUGH all the details of the agreement reached on global warming by the G8 summit yesterday afternoon are not available at the time of this writing, the initial judgement must be the Chancellor Merkel of Germany has somehow managed to save what might have been a breakdown in negotiations on this vitally important issue and at the same time has locked President Bush into a United Nations process on controlling carbon emissions instead of allowing him to go his own way as he clearly intended to do when he arrived at the meeting. Mr Blair's comment, “I'm both surprised and very pleased at how far we have come” summarised the outcome very well. The price of this deal - there is always a price to be paid in such negotiations - is that Angela Merkel's aim of a 50 per cent drop in emissions by 2050 has been put on one side for the moment in deference to the US's dislike of fixed targets. The precise words of the communique are: “We are committed to taking strong and early action to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate...emissions must stop rising, followed by substantial global emission reductions.” (my italics).

Chancellor Merkel and the other leaders who wanted a target set will doubtless have reflected that President Bush has only 18 months to run as president and that most other American leaders understand the climate change threat very well.


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