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Lack of Details in G8 Agreement on Climate Change Brings Criticism 

Group of Eight leaders in Japan set a goal to cut global carbon emissions by at least half by 2050. Developing countries say rich nations have to take the lead. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Leaders of the Group of Eight met this week on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The G-Eight countries include Britain, Canada, France and Germany. The others are Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

In a statement on the situation in Zimbabwe, the leaders deplored the actions of the government of President Robert Mugabe. They said they will take financial and other measures against those responsible for violence in connection with the recent presidential election.

The leaders also promised to fight the crisis of rising food prices and to support development in Africa.

But the major issue of the three-day meeting was climate change.

The leaders agreed on a goal of at least a fifty percent reduction in worldwide carbon emissions by two thousand fifty. But many environmentalists criticized the lack of any detailed plans for working toward that goal.

Charles Albani is a Nigerian activist with the group Global Call to End Poverty. He told VOA that the lack of details showed a lack of urgency among rich nations about the effects of global warming.

The leaders were joined for a time by the leaders of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. The G-Eight leaders had agreed among themselves that fast-growing developing nations must also share in cutting emissions. But the leaders of the five so-called emerging nations said the developed world must take the lead in reducing emissions.

Leaders of Australia, South Korea and Indonesia also joined the meeting of major economies.

China and India are the world's fastest-growing carbon producers. But for years China and India have resisted efforts to force them to reduce emissions for fear it could damage their economic growth.

They say rich countries created the current problems through their burning of fossil fuels and should lead efforts to solve them. China and India say they have more immediate needs to help hundreds of millions of people living in poverty.

Some studies suggest that China may have already passed the United States as the leading producer of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But Max Lawson, a policy adviser for Oxfam International, says that per person, the United States emits about four times more carbon than China. And Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists says developing countries are taking some steps to reduce emissions.

As VOA's Kurt Achin reported from Hokkaido, there is wide agreement on at least one thing. Any deal on reducing carbon emissions is sure to fail unless it also includes emerging economies.

This was President Bush's last G-Eight summit; he leaves office in January. The group's chairman this year was Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. Next is Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. For more about the G-Eight summit, go to I'm Steve Ember.