| GEO Business|
| G-8 meeting discusses economy, climate|
| Updated at: 1923 PST, Wednesday, July 08, 2009|
L'AQUILA: World leaders gathered at the Group of Eight summit Wednesday wrestled over a potential landmark agreement on limiting the global rise in temperature, but were expected to emphasize that signs of economic recovery are not yet strong enough to withdraw powerful stimulus measures.
Italian host, Premier Silvio Berlusconi, welcomed the leaders, many of whom arrived at the summit in electric cars bearing their nation's flag. U.S. President Barack Obama walked into the summit site for the first G8 meeting of his presidency.
The leaders may fall short on reaching a commitment to keep the globe's average temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6degrees Fahrenheit) in a bid to contain global warming. The United States, Japan, Canada and Russia _ half of the G8 _ have previously refused to back it, and the White House declined Wednesday to comment if it had signed off on a statement citing the temperature threshold.
U.S. backing for the deal would mark an abrupt turnaround from the Bush administration's stand and be a strong gesture to developing nations.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters that he hoped that the leaders could agree to the specific limit on the rise in temperature.
``We are not yet there where we would like to be but I think things are shaping in the right direction for Copenhagen,'' Barroso said, referring to the next meeting of a key international summit to replace the Kyoto protocol in December.
The abrupt return home of Chinese President Hu Jintao after ethnic tensions soared in China's western Xingjiang territory could weaken trust-building discussions on making further progress on climate change.
China is among five developing market economies _ along with Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa _ who are participating in the summit for the fifth straight year, joining from Thursday to discuss bringing them on board, aid and development. Also joining are nine African nations and a forum on climate change.
The summit will also dicussion ways to widen Group of Eight even further amid amid growing sentiment that world's most-industrialized nations can no longer claim leadership on the global political and economic agenda.
The leaders of the G-8 _ Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States _ will discuss when to begin the shift from the current emphasis on fiscal stimulus, but they also are likely to remain cautious in their assessment of recovery so far. Germany has said it's time to start thinking about rolling back massive state spending once things stabilize, but Britain and the United States have been more focused on efforts to stimulate growth now.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has emphasized that while there are clear signs of recovery _ stronger consumer confidence, housing markets and retail spending _ it is too early to be complacent or to change current policies. He will urge fellow leaders to push ahead with plans to boost the global economy despite suggestions the worst is over, emphasizing the need to continue coordinated international action, a British official said on condition of anonymity.
President Barack Obama signed an $787 billion economic stimulus bill in February, but experts say only about 15 percent of that has made its way into the economy so far _ creating a debate between the wait-and-see camp and economists who urge another stimulus, arguing the recession proved to be deeper and more devastating than originally believed.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama is satisfied with the recovery steps taken thus far but ``won't hesitate'' to take others if he thinks they are necessary. ``He is not ruling anything out. But at the same time, he's not ruling anything in,'' Gibbs told reporters traveling with the president.
The leaders of France and Britain, in a joint editorial in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, called on regulators to look at ways to reduce what they called ``damaging speculation'' in oil futures markets to combat the volatility of oil prices, which plunged from around $147 a barrel last July to $32 late last year, then to $73 last week.
The leaders will also discuss development aid later in the afternoon before taking on security issues, including Iran's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and North Korea's firing of ballistic missiles into the ocean in violation of U.N. resolutions.