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The G7 and G8 group

The Group of Seven (G7) and the Group of Eight (G8),are not international organisations, but rather informal forums in which heads of state and government can discuss global economic and foreign policy issues in a small group.

The G7comprises Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Japan, the USA and Canada. In addition, the EU is represented at all summits. The G8 comprises all countries of the G7 and Russia.

Several meetings are held every year at different levels during which the member countries coordinate common positions in a variety of policy areas.
The presidency of the G7/G8 rotates annually among its members.

On 24 March 2014, on the grounds of Russia violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the heads of state and government of the G7 member countries decided not to participate in the planned G8 summit under Russian presidency (Sochi, 4-5 June 2014). The G7 held a summit in Brussels on 4 and 5 June instead.

G8 activities in the field of environmental policy

The environment has long been an integral part of the G7/G8 policy agenda with a focus on current issues such as climate policy, biodiversity, forest conservation, marine protection and the fight against environmental crime, but in particular on current economically relevant topics.

A milestone in environmental policy was the initiative adopted in Genoa in 2001 which was successfully implemented in the following years to make trade and environment a key topic for the WTO trade talks in Doha.
Climate action was made a priority area for the first time at the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. As a result, the heads of state and government adopted a plan of action on climate change, clean energy and sustainable development. The German G8 Presidency in 2007 was instrumental in laying the foundation for a long-term global climate target. It aims at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050.

A second major success was the drawing up of a road map to bring about a UN climate agreement. Biodiversity was another topic put on the G8 agenda for the first time during the German Presidency. The Potsdam Initiative – Biological Diversity 2010 set specific activities in motion concerning science, industry, trade, funding and marine protection. When the G8 met in Heiligendamm, Germany also invited the major newly industrialising countries China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa - referred to as G8+5 states - to a G8 Summit for the first time.

As part of the Heiligendamm process the G8 and the newly industrialising countries decided to have a particularly close cooperation in several areas such as energy efficiency. In 2009 during the Italian G8 Presidency the year 1990 was incorporated into the long-term global climate target as the reference year. Furthermore, the G8 states acknowledged the necessity to limit global warming to 2° Celsius. The G8 continues to support the targets and measures of international climate policy, as was the case at the most recent G8 summit at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland on 17-18 June 2013.

In addition to the annual summits of the heads of state and government, the environment ministers of the G8 met at irregular intervals over the past years to discuss key environmental topics. Moreover, meetings of energy and environment ministers of the 20 major energy-consuming countries and the International Energy Agency took place between 2005 and 2008 (Gleneagles Dialogue).

Last update: 25.09.2014