President Obama said Friday that leaders of the industrialized nations have agreed to continue fueling economic growth while strengthening regulatory measures but they also realize that full recovery is "still a ways off."
Obama listed some of the achievements of the Group of Eight summit this week in Italy as the conference neared the end, and he stressed the need for collective action. In addition, the G8 nations agreed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, set goals for reducing carbon monoxide emissions and invest $20 billion in food security. That money is in addition to humanitarian aid already provided. Nations have a moral obligation to help countries where there is hunger, and national institutions are needed to help farmers thrive in these places, Obama said, noting 1 billion people face dire hunger around the globe. He said there are many people without enough food in the Kenyan village where his father was born and said he has questioned why that is the case. “There is no reason why Africa cannot be self-sufficient when it comes to food. It has enough arable land,” he said. But comprehensive plans and institutional mechanisms are needed to ensure an adequate food supply, he said. Meetings with African leaders marked the final day of the G-8 summit Friday. Obama huddled with South African President Jacob Zuma before holding the summit-closing news conference
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The G-8 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — have been meeting in L’Aquila, an earthquake-ravaged town outside Rome. Afterward, Obama willl make a quick trip to Rome and the Vatican, where the first family is to have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. On the last night of the summit, the G-8 countries agreed to a goal on global warming and ordered their finance ministers to seek to relaunch stalled global trade talks. Climate change was the main issue Thursday, with the G-8 nations agreeing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The goal — cutting emissions by 80 percent by 2050 — is aimed at preventing the Earth’s atmosphere from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Watch as Obama acknowledges the U.S. role in finding solutions to climate change » At a separate meeting Thursday, emerging economies also agreed to work toward the 2-degree Celsius threshold. But the countries — including China and India, two of the biggest polluters — refused to set a target. Most mainstream climate change scientists warn that warming above 2 degrees Celsius could mean catastrophe for Earth. U.N.-led negotiations are aimed at reaching a climate change treaty — involving 192 nations — in December in Copenhagen, Denmark. Such a treaty would succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. Obama’s meeting with the pope comes three days after the pontiff launched a verbal assault on global capitalism ahead of the G-8 meeting, lambasting “grave deviations and failures” and calling for a “profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise.” The pope 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.
After meeting the pope, the first U.S. African-American president will make his first trip as chief executive to Africa, traveling to Accra, Ghana. Obama is to meet Saturday with the president of Ghana and address parliament.