Thursday, 10 July 2008

After G8 leaders failed at summit: Pressure piled on UN now

The 2008 G8 Summit in Japan failed to tackle the grievous problems facing the world that are hitting poor people first and hardest, said international agency Oxfam at the summit's end. Leadership must now be shown at key UN meetings on poverty in September and on climate in December. Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said "never was more urgent action needed by the G8 than this week in Japan. Accelerated climate change, runaway food prices and growing poverty are depriving millions of people of their livelihoods and, in many cases, their very lives. Several governments championed steps to tackle the crucial issues sitting on the G8 agenda, but in the end this summit did not deliver the breakthroughs that are so urgently needed. The consensus reached was shallow at best, especially on climate.”

* On climate change, the G8 endorsed among other things a commitment to halve global carbon emissions by 2050 - but with no agreed baseline year or mid-term targets - and a $6bn pledge to the World Bank for climate investment funds that will come out of existing aid budgets.
* On the food crisis, the G8 promised to reverse the decline in aid to agriculture - but without any numbers - and to support the UN's plans to tackle the crisis. It also pledged to ensure that biofuels would be produced in a way that would be compatible with food security and to accelerate the development of second-generation biofuels.
* On Africa and development aid, the G8 reaffirmed previous promised to provide $50bn in new assistance, half to Africa, by 2010 - although it offered no details on who would do what to reverse the decline in aid since 2006. It also repeated the promise it made 12 months ago to spend $60bn for health.

Oxfam International chief policy adviser at the G8, Max Lawson, said: "The G8 leaders' clumsy attempt to backtrack on their aid promises has backfired. With two years to go to the 2010 deadline, G8 leaders now have to deliver the $50bn in new assistance they pledged at Gleneagles. The world takes these promises seriously even if the G8 leaders do not." On current trends, Oxfam said the G8 will fall $30bn short of the 2010 promise, which could cost as many as five million lives, most of them among the 30,000 children who die each day from causes related to extreme poverty. "The G8 failed to rise to the challenge of a world in crisis, a world that is demanding serious action. We must see renewed leadership in September at the UN Emergency Summit on Poverty and in December in Poland at the vital UN climate talks," Hobbs said.

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