|Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany|
Leaders at the Group of Eight meeting last week in Heiligendamm, Germany, discussed issues including climate change and aid to Africa. The eight nations represent almost two-thirds of the world economy. They are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to get them all to accept a goal to limit temperature increases this century to two degrees Celsius. But earlier, President Bush announced a policy change. He said the United States will support an effort to negotiate a new agreement on climate policy before two thousand nine. He proposed a conference of the major producers of greenhouse gases.
The current agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, ends in two thousand twelve. The United States rejected it for economic reasons. The treaty requires industrial countries, but not developing ones, to reduce greenhouse gases linked to climate change.
China, for example, is the second largest producer of heat-trapping gases. Experts say it could top the United States within two years.
Last week, China released its first plan to deal with climate change. China aims to reduce energy use. But the plan does not include targets for reducing greenhouse gases.
China says industrial nations were mostly responsible for the current problem as they burned unlimited amounts of oil, gas and coal. It says asking developing countries to lower their emissions too early will hurt their development.
The eight leaders agreed to "consider seriously" the decisions by the European Union, Canada and Japan to cut global emissions in half by two thousand fifty. Chancellor Merkel, the current G-Eight president, said she was "very, very satisfied" with the agreement. But she noted it was a compromise.
The G-Eight leaders also promised sixty billion dollars in "the coming years" to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa. The amount includes thirty billion dollars, over five years, that President Bush has asked Congress for. But some activists criticized the G-Eight offer as short on details and short of promises made two years ago to improve African health systems.
Also at this year's meeting, the G-Eight established a process for high-level economic talks with Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. The aim is to produce results within two years.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Bob Doughty.