The Group of Eight leaders attending the G-8 summit in Germany Thursday agreed to work toward achieving substantial cuts in greenhouse gases, but they did not specify numbers or deadlines.
This is the furthest the G-8 nations have gone in setting a framework for reducing greenhouse gases. However, the agreement did not go as far as the binding agreement German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted going into the summit.
The leaders agreed to a goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2050, but Merkel was pushing for something firmer. Leaders released a joint statement Thursday saying the G-8 nations "will consider seriously" those guidelines, which the European Union, Canada and Japan have already agreed to.
The United States has refused to sign any agreement that did not include China and India.
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said that the G-8 leaders committed to developing a goal but not its specifics because all the key players were not present.
Last week, President Bush outlined a proposal that would have the world's top emissions emitters come together in a series of meetings to determine their own goals for reductions.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who tried to push for a strong commitment on greenhouse gas emissions when he was the host of the G-8 summit in Scotland in 2005, hailed today's agreement as "a major, major step forward."
"Now, you can track this back through the G-8-plus-5 dialogue after Gleneagles, the changes that have happened subsequent to that," Blair told reporters. "There is then obviously now the recognition that we do need a global deal with everyone in it."
In a speech in Washington last week, Bush called on major nations to agree to a long-term global goal of reducing greenhouse gases, and to launch a series of meetings beginning this fall.
The meetings would bring together countries that produce the most greenhouse gases with countries that have growing economies, like India and China, to establish a post-Kyoto framework.
The U.S has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which required industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gases by 2012, because the protocol exempted India and China.
Hadley indicated that the president still wanted to see those meetings go forward, even with the agreement today at the G-8 summit.
Under the president's plan, each nation would determine individual goals and programs that best reflect their energy sources and needs.
The White House's goal is to establish this framework within the next 19 months, and to bring together industry leaders from different energy sectors to work on ways to share clean energy technology.