Hazel Southam - Journalist

G8 summit day 2. Climate change

The G8 leaders today failed to make significant moves on climate change.

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

The leaders of the world’s richest countries did little more than re-state agreements made at last year’s summit in Germany. In 2007 they agreed that they would ‘seriously consider’ carbon emissions cuts of at least 50 per cent by 2050.

This year however, 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.

Campaigners had urged rich nations to cut carbon emissions by between 25-40 per cent by 2020.

The G8’s announcement has been greeted with dismay by campaigners. 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.’
The Union of Concerned Scientists – a US-based scientific lobby group – condemned George Bush’s ‘lack of leadership’ on climate change.

‘This does not represent a step forward,’ said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy, ‘Bush is really saying that we in America are going to keep our emissions growing. We are disappointed but not surprised because of the split between Bush and the EU.’

However, the European Commission welcomed the news. President Barroso said, ‘I am very happy about the results of the G8 on climate change. This is a strong signal to citizens around the world.’

Yesterday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick said that the ‘three crises’ of food, fuel and development were ‘interconnected.’

‘The Millennium Development Goals can address development,’ said Ban Ki-moon.
‘The G8 must agree to deliver on its commitments. No new promises are needed.’

However, yesterday 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.

Sir Bob Geldof, who was at the summit today, said, ‘This is the halfway point to 2010, which is when the Gleneagles promise comes up, and they should be 50 per cent of the way there but in fact they are 14 per cent of the way there.’

Charities also gave the announcements on aid to Africa a cautious welcome.

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.’

Originally published in Church Times


About Hazel

Hazel Southam is an award-winning journalist who reports on religious affairs, international development and the environment. She has covered four G8 Summits.

She wrote for The Sunday and Daily Telegraph for 10 years. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard.

Reporting assignments have taken her to places including Bosnia, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Albania, Nagorno-Karabakh, Senegal and the Arctic Circle.

In the UK, she has also delivered media training to the MOD and leading businesses.

Contact Hazel