In a statement, G8 leaders also vowed to pursue alternatives to fossil
fuels, including nuclear power, to address “serious and linked challenges” in the energy sector including soaring oil prices and limited supplies.
“Ensuring sufficient, reliable and environmentally responsible supplies of energy at prices reflecting market fundamentals is a challenge for our countries and for mankind as a whole,” G8 leaders said in a statement.
They said the application of fair and competitive market-based responses to energy problems “will help preclude potentially disruptive actions affecting energy sources, supplies and transit.”
Russia, hosting a Group of Eight summit for the first time this year, put energy security at the top of the agenda but came under fire early this year after cutting gas for Ukraine, resulting in supply disruptions in Europe.
In a statement, the G8 leaders pledged to work for more “open, transparent, efficient and competitive markets for energy production, supply, use, transmission and transit.”
Russia support ‘principles’
Russia joined its G8 partners in agreeing in the statement to “support the principles” of the Energy Charter, a framework of rules governing energy markets that the European Union has been pushing Moscow to ratify.
However, Russian officials made clear later that support in principle was not the same as adoption of a Charter that would force Russia to open its gas pipeline network to firms competing with state gas monopoly Gazprom.
President Vladimir Putin has argued that greater access for foreign firms to Russia’s energy resources must be matched by reciprocal access for Russian companies to European assets.
The G8 statement addressed this point, stating: “It is especially important that companies from energy producing and consuming countries can invest in and acquire upstream and downstream assets internationally in a mutually beneficial way.”
With high demand and worries about supply driving oil near $A106.28 a barrel, leaders of the G8 nations – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States – offered cautious support for nuclear energy as an alternative.
But the statement also reflected Germany’s opposing views on nuclear energy – Germany wants to phase it out altogether – saying plans to increase nuclear power applied only to “those of us who have or are considering” such plans.
The G8 said access to nuclear power should be available to any country that wanted it but needed to be based on “a robust regime for assuring nuclear non-proliferation”.
On another issue, G8 leaders have given WTO negotiators one month to reach agreement on a broad outline for liberalising world trade, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.
“We gave a mandate to our respective negotiators to come to an agreement on modalities within one month” in an effort to restart stalled World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on global trade, Mr Barroso told reporters.
The G8 leaders will meet later today with their counterparts from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa to mount yet another bid to salvage a global trade liberalisation campaign.