President Barack Obama says at G8 Summit that the global recession makes it harder to strike an international climate agreement but that leaders must "fight the temptation toward cynicism" and press forward, The Associated Press reports.
The G-8 countries - comprising the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia - agreed to a target of reducing their carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050 to try to prevent the Earth's atmosphere from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), Obama said, CNN com. reports.
Obama also said that "Every nation on this planet is at risk and just as no one nation is responsible for climate change, no one nation can address it alone,” Reuters reports.
Meanwhile The EU has promised a 20% cut in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. It has said that the target will be increased to 30% if there is a satisfactory international agreement.
It also says 20% of the total energy mix should come from renewables by 2020, and there should be a 20% cut in energy consumption by the same year.
Japan has set a target for cutting emissions by 15% by 2020 but the baseline for this reduction is 2005, not 1990. This makes a significant difference because emissions were 6% higher in 2005 than they were in 1990.
The Australian government says it will cut emissions by 5 - 25% by 2020 compared to 2000 levels depending on what other countries agree, and by 60% by 2050. It is also planning to introduce an emissions trading scheme but it faces opposition in the Australian Senate.
China has set domestic targets for energy efficiency and use of renewable energy but nothing specifically on emissions. It may introduce an "emission intensity" target, i.e. the level of emissions for each unit of economic output. But that has not happened yet, BBC News reports.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969