Environment ministers from rich and poor nations discussed a green technology stimulus on Wednesday to help tackle global warming and overcome the global economic crisis.
The three-day meeting of the Group of Eight industrial countries and major developing economies opened in Sicily, with attention focused on how far the new U.S. administration would go in its environmental strategy.
The meeting, taking place on Earth Day, marked the first ministerial-level talks this year in negotiations toward a major U.N. deal on climate change, due to be signed in December in Copenhagen to replace the 1997 Kyoto agreement.
Without leadership from the G8 countries an international response to climate change will not happen. This meeting needs to point the way, said Yvo de Boer, the United Nation's top climate change official.
The new American administration is incredibly important to addressing this issue. Trying to come to a climate change agreement without the United States makes no sense.
U.S. President Barack Obama has already pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, reversing the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush, whose administration refused to sign up to Kyoto. Delegates said they were watching closely for any details of American plans for action.
On Wednesday, the meeting discussed ways to reconcile the investment required to cut carbon emissions with the trillions of dollars being spent to stabilize financial markets.
Many of the countries present, including the United States and China, have already pledged major investment in green technologies. Wednesday's talks focused on the most efficient ways to focus spending and the best means to promote green technologies in developing countries.
This G8 aims to spread low-carbon technology in order to allow developing and emerging countries to follow the path to eco-friendly development hand in hand with Western countries, Italian Environment Minister Stefania Pestigiacomo said.
For the first time, the G8 ministerial meeting included a broad spread of developing countries in the hope of forging a broader consensus, grouping China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, South Korea and Egypt.
U.N.-sponsored talks in Germany this month exposed wide differences on emissions, with poor countries saying rich nations that earned their wealth from industrialization must act first and help pay for the cost of their carbon reduction.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has put the price of a green revolution to halve emissions by 2050 at $45 trillion.
De Boer said he would hold talks with developed countries at Syracuse to discuss funding for green technology.