updated 6/20/2008 3:35:51 PM ET 2008-06-20T19:35:51

The world's developed countries should take the lead in the battle against global warming and push for halving global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, a group of business leaders said Friday.

The World Economic Forum, in proposals presented to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, also urged the Group of Eight countries — which are holding a summit in Japan in July — to set nearer-term reduction goals.

"Nothing less than a rapid and fundamental strategy to reach a low-carbon world economy is needed," said the proposal, which was backed by 99 CEOs of global companies.

While the world's richest countries should take the lead, emerging economies such as China and India will also have to be part of the reduction strategy in the long-term, the group said.

"Those countries who are currently developing fast will not be able to avoid their future responsibilities," the proposal said.

Japan has pledged to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for the rising of world temperatures, by between 60 percent and 80 percent by 2050, but has not set an interim target.

G-8 environment ministers last month said in a statement after a meeting in Japan that there was "strong political will" to set the 50 percent reduction target for 2050 at the upcoming G-8 summit.

Setting interim targets has been much more contentious. Many support a goal of reductions between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020, but the U.S. government considers that unrealistic.

The business leaders' proposals were modest compared to what environmentalists and the European Union are pushing for. For instance, the executives called the 50-percent reduction goal an "aspiration," rather than a binding target.

The group also called for the setting of an interim "milestone" as part of a new international global warming pact scheduled to be completed in 2009, but mentioned a more modest range of cuts between 14 percent and 35 percent by 2030.

"The new framework should construct an ambitious, but achievable, emissions reduction strategy for the short to medium-term," the group said.

The business group also called for encouragement of all clean technologies, long-term policies to provide a stable investment climate, and products and services to adapt to changes caused by rising temperatures.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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