"We've made a good start, but I'm the first one to acknowledge progress on this issue will not be easy," Mr. Obama said from L'Aquila, Italy. "It is no small task for 17 leaders to bridge thier differences on climate change."
The countries represented at the forum agreed to recognize the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels should not to exceed two degrees Celsius. With that objective in mind, the nations agreed to what President Obama called a "historic consensus on concrete goals for reducing carbon emissions," with developed nations agreeing to reduce them by 80 percent by 2050 -- a goal the climate change bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives aims for. Developing nations agreed between now and the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen to negotaitie concrete goals to reduce their own emissions by 2050.
"As I wrestle with these issues politically in my own country, I have come to see it is absolutely critical all of us go beyond what is expected of us if we are to achieve our goals," Mr. Obama said.
The nations in attendance also agreed to consider proposals for establishing international funding arrangements to assist developing countries.
World leaders will have to "fight the tempation towards cynicism," Mr. Obama said, even though he acknowledged that "it's even more difficult in the context of a global recession."
He said, though, "there is no contradiction between environmentally sustainable growth and robust economic growth."
Economic concerns, however, are already slowing down the progress of climate change legislation in the United States.
"Each of our nations comes to the table with different needs, different priorities, different levels of devlopment," Mr. Obama said. Developed nations like the United States, he said, "have a responsiblity to take the lead."
The leaders who participated in today's forum represented Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Watch a report from CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid about the G8 conference below.