George Bush attends his last ever G8 Summit - so it's not all bad news, then...
Our political advisor, Daniel Mittler, who was in Toyako
throughout, has been providing regular updates: from the wet and dismal start to the proceedings,
through the G8's working lunches, working dinners and working
lunches while discussing the global food crisis, and to the
bitter end - a final statement that showed they hadn't made
much progress whatsoever.
So what have we learned from the G8's three wasted days?
1. Never do today what you can keep putting off until
Global emissions have to start falling by 2015 and must be cut
by more than 50 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. With the
G8 countries accounting for 62 percent of greenhouse gas emissions,
it's clear that industrialised countries need to take the lead,
cutting emissions by at least 30 percent by 2020, and by between 80
and 90 percent by 2050.
The G8 in fact called on the world to aim for a 50 percent goal
- and not more - in 2050, and failed to give any clear commitments
on mid-term measures; this is simply not good enough. We need
The World Bank Climate Investment Funds that the
G8 has announced do not even exclude coal, the world's most
polluting energy source. Unless we end our addiction to fossil
fuels and start an energy revolution based on renewable energy and
energy efficiency now, the world of 2050 will be a nightmarish one
All the G8 leaders have effectively done is postpone the
responsibility for tackling global climate change to future
generations; to the politicians who succeed them, and to the
children who will have to live in the nightmare world of 2050 as
envisioned by the G8.
2. Never miss the opportunity - whatever the crisis - to
make a quick sale…
Bush, Berlusconi and others have used the G8 meeting to act as
lobbyists for their own energy giants, trying to sell dangerous,
expensive and uninsurable nuclear power plants.
It's a fact that nuclear energy today is based on risky
reactors, leads to proliferation and security hazards and produces
long lived deadly nuclear waste with no solution for its safe
To say that nuclear power will save the climate is absurd and
downright dangerous. We need solutions based on renewables and
energy efficiency to defeat climate change and ensure true energy
It's not even as though it's difficult for the G8 to find these
solutions - we set it all out, loud and clear, for them in our Energy [R]evolution scenario last year. Maybe
it's time for the G8 leaders to get their heads down into reading
this report, instead of having their heads in the (hopefully, not
3. You can have your cake and eat it - so long as
it's genetically modified…
It's said, "You are what you eat." Yet, the G8 continues to
support treating our soil like dirt, contaminating our water with
toxic chemicals and the planting of more GE crops that yield less
and fail under bad weather conditions.
Industrial agriculture has undermined global food security and
led us to a food crisis. Rather than shift public investment to
proven ecological methods that provide higher yields, better food
and more resilience to climate change, the G8 leaders repeat their
usual mantra that countries should rely on the global market for
their food security.
On top of this, Bush, Berlusconi and others have been pushing
for genetically engineered food as the solution to the food crisis.
They pretend that liberalising trade will lower food prices. It has
not and will not - all it will do is drive poor farmers, especially
those in the developing world, off their land.
We need farming that is ecological and biodiverse, rather than
continuing with chemical-intensive farming or pursuing the false
promise of genetic engineering. We need public investment in
research and development on ecological and climate change resilient
farming; the end of funding for GE crops and the prohibition of
patents on seeds; and the phasing out of the most toxic chemicals
and the elimination of environmentally-destructive agricultural
It was time for G8 leaders to admit that their old policies have
failed and that they need to start building a trade system based on
equity and sustainability; that 'business as usual' is not an
option. Instead, they fell back on their usual ritual of calling
for a swift end to the Doha Round of trade talks, failing to
recognise that further trade liberalisation will spell disaster for
poor people and the environment.
As Daniel Mittler's reports show, the G8 leaders had plenty of
food…but little thought.
4. Acknowledge the problem, and hopefully it'll go
The G8 acknowledged there are unsustainable biofuels - but
didn't do anything about them.
Due to this inaction even more land will be diverted away from
food production - mandatory biofuel targets in developed countries
need to be suspended and legislation introduced to ensure biofuel
production does not threaten food security, particularly in
And due to this inaction, even more forests will be felled -
increasing global climate change. Protecting intact forests is
crucial for preserving biodiversity and combating climate
Oil is running out, but the answer to the world's transport
needs does not lie with unsustainable biofuels. In order to satisfy
the rich world's addiction to cars, instead we are simply driving
deforestation, driving the food crisis and driving climate
It seems the G8 may have driven through all the climate red
lights and stop signs in Toyako.
5. Always look on the bright side of life…
While the Arctic ice is melting, the G8 froze into inaction.
Instead of protecting the climate, the G8 effectively protected the
interests of industry, most notably the nuclear and GE industries.
We're no further forward than where we were a year ago, at the last
G8 meeting in Heiligendamm.
But, the one good thing about this G8
meeting is that it was US President George W. Bush's last.
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