G8 under fire for failure to make breakthrough at climate talks

By Hazel Southam
July 8, 2008

The G8 leaders have been criticised today for failing to make a breakthrough in critical climate change talks.

Discussions about how to reduce greenhouse gases came on the second day of the summit on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The world’s leaders did little more than re-state agreements made at last year’s summit in Germany.

Last year they agreed that they would ‘seriously consider’ carbon emissions cuts of at least 50 per cent by 2050.

This year, the leaders of the world’s eight richest countries – Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada, Japan and the US – agreed to ‘consider and adopt the goal of achieving at least 50 per cent reductions in global emissions by 2050’.

The EU and Japan wanted fellow leaders to go further, setting interim targets to cut greenhouse gases.

Friends of the Earth slammed the climate change communiqué. “G8 leaders today signalled their support for climate chaos by spewing futile rhetoric that will do nothing to stop the toll that global warming is taking on people and the planet,” said its spokesperson, Karen Orenstein.

Calling the statement ‘very disappointing’, Tearfund’s Peter Grant said: “To do little more than re-state last year’s G8 commitment to halve emissions by 2050 is a very disappointing outcome, demonstrating a lack of leadership and vision.

“The science is telling us that merely halving emissions is no longer enough.”

Campaigners say that people living in poverty in developing nations will suffer from the worst effects of climate change. So, they have appealed to the G8 leaders to act on both climate change and aid to Africa.

Seven African leaders visited the G8 yesterday to press the case for delivering aid to Africa.

Today, the G8 agreed to fulfil its promise - made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 - to increase aid by $50 billion a year by 2010. Half of this will be to Africa.

Tearfund’s Peter Grant said: “No extra commitments were needed from the G8 on aid. But with only two years to meet this target, an extraordinary effort is required to deliver on existing promises.

“High food and fuel process are crippling for those who already live a hand-to-mouth existence. This is not the time to step away from hard fought commitments to help the world’s poorest people.”

Charles Abani, Pan-Africa advocacy director for Oxfam International said that what the developing world needed was to see the G8 deliver the money, not just promise it. “Only when the G8 comes through with the $25 billion for Africa will we have cause to celebrate,” he said.

Aid agencies claim that G8 countries are likely to fail to meet their targets for aid by as much as $30 billion.

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