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G8

Not much progress

by Alexandra Janda
Two issues topped the agenda for the political leaders of the industrialised world’s most powerful countries at this year’s G8 summit in July in Toyako, Japan: climate change and the volume of development assistance. There were no breakthroughs.

The G8 leaders agreed to a 50 % reduction of global greenhouse emissions by 2050. However, environmentalists complain that no specific year was indicated as the baseline, so the pledge remains vague.

Participants in the climate debate in Toyako included top politicians from China, Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Indonesia and Australia. Along with the G8, these countries form the group of countries with the highest carbon emissions.

The United States once again reiterated the importance of controlling emissions in emerging economies, whereas the latter stressed the responsibility of the industrialised nations that have caused the greenhouse effect in the first place. The emerging powers therefore called for the established ones to adopt binding reduction targets by 2020 – a call which failed to elicit commitments from the G8. As no precise roadmap was agreed, critics spoke of a “missed opportunity”. The summit created a Climate Investment Fund to help emerging and developing nations reduce carbon emissions through the transfer of modern technology. However, critics point out that contributions to the fund will be declared as official development assistance (ODA) even though they are not aimed directly at reducing poverty.

At the Gleneagles summit in 2005, the G8 promised to increase ODA by $ 50 billion, half of it for Africa. They also agreed to link ODA to economic output, raising development budgets to 0.51% of GDP by 2010 and 0.7% by 2015. That promise was reiterated last year in Heiligendamm. The current G8 statement confirms old commitments in principle, but does not mention specific figures. Critics claim that without a binding implementation plan, the promises lack credibility. (aj)