G8's failure dashes hope for climate and development

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As evening falls on this "G" of a day, all the action has been on the streets. Among the leaders it has all been photo-ops and handshakes. Right now, the first plenary of the G20 is only just beginning with the official opening reception featuring leaders and wives.


Michelle Obama sure looks tall in that white dress she's wearing. But can the gathering go beyond trying to look good to actually doing good?

Hopefully the G8 process is not an indication of what will be achieved tomorrow since the final G8 communique offered nothing to celebrate on development or climate change.

Oxfam is one of many NGO's to offer up scathing criticism of Harper's maternal campaign now rebranded as the "Muskoka Initiative".

"This year the headline is maternal health, last year it was food," says OXFAM spokesperson Mark Fried. "With overall aid frozen, the G8 are just shuffling the same money around to different pots. The only promise that counts is the Gleneagles one to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010 and that is the one they have abandoned today."

The G8 pronouncements on climate change which emphasize carbon capture and storage, nuclear power and biofuels as key elements of a climate change strategy met with a similar lack of enthusiasm from NGO environment watchers.

"The G8 communique is a complete deja vu of what we saw in earlier G8 meetings and latest in Copenhagen. Not much vision here. The good news is that climate change is still on the agenda, and we're not back-tracking from where we got to last year. The bad news is that there is no new commitment to actually do what is needed," says WWF Global Climate Initiative campaigner Kim Carstensen.

Environmental groups are also fearful that the G20 may be in the process of pulling back on the committment to move away from fossil fuel subsidies. This is based on an early draft of a communique leaked a few days ago by Greenpeace.

And even the Governor of the Bank of Canada announced this week that he is worried that an over emphasis by the G20 on government spending cuts without balancing the need for growth could send the world economy into a deflationary spiral.

But with all the fears, the leaders have a historic opportunity to get it right tomorrow. But to hold on to hope for tomorrow, we will have to expect the unexpected!

 

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