Leaders of the world’s leading industrialized nations are huddling with representatives of up-and-coming powerhouses to tackle global warming at an economic summit Thursday in Italy.
U.S. President Barack Obama will lead the Major Economies Forum at the Group of Eight meetings in L’Aquila. The forum is a climate-centered group whose members represent the G-8 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — along with Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. Those nations account for 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Thursday’s session follows a pledge by G-8 leaders the night before to seek huge cuts in emissions and sets the stage for the possibility of an all-encompassing agreement at a major environmental summit in December in Copenhagen, Denmark. The leaders said they would “join a global response to achieve a 50 percent reduction in global emissions by 2050, and to a goal of an aggregate 80 percent or more reduction by developed countries by that date.” Watch report from CNN’s Ed Henry » The goal mirrors one adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives last month.
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Despite the G-8 leaders’ pledge to cut emissions, developing nations may not follow suit — and G-8 leaders stopped short of calling on them to set specific targets. Instead, they “called upon major emerging economies to undertake quantifiable actions to collectively reduce emissions significantly below business-as-usual by a specified year,” the White House said. After the summit’s first session on Wednesday, Obama and other leaders toured the mountain town of L’Aquila. The area was devastated by a 6.3-magnitude quake in April, killing about 300 people and leaving some 45,000 homeless. Watch as leaders tour quake zone » Obama is expected to push for further international financial stimulus packages at the summit, reflecting continued concerns over the global economic crisis despite massive government spending to halt the downturn. Watch what’s on agenda at G-8 summit » The summit’s host, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is likely hoping that the three-day event will help draw the spotlight away from recent scandals that have prompted questions about his suitability to lead. Prone to gaffes and facing a divorce from his wife of 19 years, the Italian prime minister is being investigated over allegations that he paid for sex, claims that he has repeatedly denied. Berlusconi has made a big show of moving the summit from its original venue on the island of Sardinia to L’Aquila, in central Italy, as a gesture of support for the region. A massive security operation has been put in place around the town, which is still hit by regular aftershocks. Italy said last week it had arrested six members of a left-wing terrorist group that was plotting an attack on the summit. Watch Berlusconi talk to CNN about scandals he faces » Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI launched a verbal assault on global capitalism ahead of the meeting, lambasting “grave deviations and failures” and calling for a “profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise.” The pope, who is to meet Obama on Friday in Rome, challenged bankers to turn away from the practices blamed for bringing about the global economic crisis and instead use their power to help the world create wealth and economic development.
“Above all, the intention to do good must not be considered incompatible with the effective capacity to produce goods,” Benedict said. After his meeting with the pope, the first African-American president will make his first trip as chief executive to Africa, traveling to Accra, Ghana. Obama’s father was a native of Kenya.