China and India have rejected calls from G8 leaders for them to make deep cuts in their carbon emissions.
The refusal of developing nations to sign up to a climate change deal overshadowed an agreement between rich nations to limit the rise in global average temperatures.
G8 leaders meeting in L'Aquila, Italy, agreed for the first time to work to prevent global temperatures rising by more than two degrees Celsius.
The summit also agreed that developed economies should aim to cut their carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The agreement will force G8 economies to make significant changes in the way they operate to meeting that target.
Gordon Brown hailed the G8 statement on climate change as "historic" and a precursor to global climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.
"We have laid the foundations for a Copenhagen deal that is effective,
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