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Thursday, July 10, 2008

G8 SUMMIT 2008

Lack of concrete promises disappoints NGOs

Staff writer

TOYAKO, Hokkaido — Various nongovernmental organizations expressed deep disappointment Wednesday over the G8 summit, which ended without any concrete goals or commitments and left much unfinished business for next year's meeting in Italy.

News photo
No emissions deal: Leaders of the Group of Eight and eight emerging economies, including China, India and Brazil, gather at the Toyako summit Wednesday morning. KYODO PHOTO

This year's summit was a step backward from last year's in Heiligendamm, Germany, said Yurika Ayukawa, vice chairwoman of the 2008 G8 Summit NGO Forum.

"First and foremost, we were demanding that the G8 leaders set high goals for themselves," Ayukawa said. "And then, (the G8 leaders) would be able to gain trust from the developing countries and create a process in which they could join."

But because the industrialized countries failed to come up with any concrete commitments, they also failed to reach agreement with the emerging economies over the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

Kim Carstensen, the director of global climate initiative of World Wide Fund for Nature International, said Europe gave in too much to the United States.

"This time I think Europe has been hiding together with Japan and Canada, hiding behind a United States that didn't want to move anything," Carstensen said. "Next year must be different. And it will be different in one way because we are going to have a new American president — so the ball game is going to be different."

Meanwhile, Akira Kawasaki gave credit to the G8 leaders for stating for the first time that they will be "upholding, strengthening and universalizing all relevant multilateral nonproliferation and disarmament instruments."

"But the G8 states must take action themselves as major military powers instead of just pointing their fingers at North Korea and Iran," Kawasaki added.

Even young people are disappointed. A SEED Japan (Action for Solidarity, Equality, Environment and Development), an NGO made up of youths, issued a press release titled, "The Toyako Summit that betrayed the future generation and saw no progress."

NGOs also lashed out against the Major Economies Meeting held earlier in the day, condemning it as pointless and slamming its joint statement on energy security and climate change as empty.

Greenpeace International political adviser Daniel Mittler ripped the MEM — a framework of the Group of Eight and eight other major polluters, including China, India and Brazil — saying it was a "complete waste of time" without any concrete figures on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

"Developing countries are ready to move forward" to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Mittler said. "But the industrialized world has to show good faith. And by not committing to 2020 targets, the industrialized countries have failed to do that."

While the G8 leaders came to a fuzzy agreement Tuesday over a long-term target to "seek" the goal of achieving at least a 50 percent cut in global emissions by 2050, the MEM declaration failed to include any numbers.

Instead, the statement by the 16 major greenhouse gas emitters only said "we support a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions."

Charles Abani, the Oxfam United Kingdom regional director of southern Africa, expressed deep concern over the "current inaction" of the G8 leaders.

"In Africa today, the impacts of climate change are very real," Abani said. "For us in Africa, the decisions today represent a significant human rights issue and we feel a strong need now to escalate the actions required so that millions of Africans are not condemned to death."

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The Japan Times

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