Toyako (Japan), July 8 : In a bid to tackle global warming, leaders of the Group of Eight nations have agreed to set a global target of cutting carbon emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050.
The deal was announced by Japan's Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, who is hosting the Summit, at the mountain-top resort hotel at Toyako near northern Hokkaido city. Expressing concern over the threat posed to the global economy by soaring oil prices, the leaders said they remained positive about the long-term resilience of their economies, so long as countries resisted the introduction of trade barriers.
Last year's G-8 Summit at the Heiligendamm in Germany pledged only to "seriously consider" the cuts.
The European Union and Japan have been pressing for a G-8 statement that goes beyond the summit pledge made last year to "seriously consider" a goal of halving global carbon emissions by the middle of the 21st century.
The G-8 is expected to urge big emerging economies to share in this vision.
Senior officials from the Group of Eight rich nations met late into the night in Japan to thrash out the wording that would allow U.S.President George W. Bush to put aside his deep misgivings and sign on to a global goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century.
Bush is under pressure from Japan and Europe, but says he will not back a numerical target unless big polluters, including China and India agree to binding commitments to curb their carbon pollution.
The statement on climate change is also likely to highlight agreements to develop new technologies and provide funds to help poor countries limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Efforts to clinch a deal have been hampered by deep differences within the G-8.
The G-8 leaders seemed to be in good spirits as they were being photographed, and especially when they waved to some women watching them from a window.
A group of demonstrators, wearing caricature masks of the G-8 leaders and floating up in the air with the help of a crane, projected a serious message that these leaders had to be seen to be taking action to save the environment, rather than spending time meeting each in different capitals of the world.
The international aid agency, Oxfam, urged the G-8 and other big greenhouse gas-emitting countries to tackle the climate change. It insisted that the rich countries emit the most carbon per head, and that they must cut emissions to halt climate change.
They also urged G-5 countries, including China, Brazil and India, who have been invited to the summit, to take responsibility for climate change too. G-8 leaders also agreed that there was a need for stability in oil and food prices, which have soared in recent months, as well as in financial markets.
The summit is being attended by the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, and by counterparts from some 15 other countries.
Some of the countries are keen on a deal on a long-term global goal for emissions cuts - but there are divisions over what targets should be set and what would be expected of developing countries.
The leaders are also expected to discuss biofuels, amid concern that the rise in their use is driving food prices up.
Leaders were also expected to discuss rising energy prices, global inflation and stabilising financial markets, officials said.
The summit is also expected to release a statement on the elections in Zimbabwe, which President George W Bush on Monday described as a sham. By Mrityunjay Singh