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Commentary: “Cold Peace” And Climate Change At G8

  • June 4th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

g8-logo.jpegClimate change looks to have come in from the cold in the lead-up to this week’s meeting of the eight major industrial countries, the G8 (6-8.6.07).

President George Bush’s evident conversion to the cause of containing global warming, and talk of setting targets to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, has been welcomed in Europe, the United Nations and elsewhere as at least a good start.

He has shied away from a worldwide, multilateral accord, suggesting a US-led movement with selected partners like China or India.

However his first test of commitment on the topic will be at the G8, where it is high on the agenda.

The European Union is pushing hard for its agreed target, a 20% reduction in 1990 levels of C02 output by 2020 — extended to 30% if others join it.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said today it would be tough getting agreement with America, which had not joined the current Kyoto accord on global warming.

“It is well known that there are major difference between the EU and the US approaches to climate change,” he said.

“A globally binding, enforceable and differentiated system with carbon trading at its core is what Europe proposes for the post-Kyoto period after 2012.”

Heads of government of the G8 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — will meet in the North German resort town of Heiligendamm, near Rostock.

The area has been under siege since the weekend by crowds of up to 30 000 protestors, from left-wing and environmental movements throughout Europe.

They are demanding urgent action from the eight countries against a widening gap between rich and poor, and aid especially to the poorest countries in Africa – claiming that Western governments have gone back on promises to deliver more assistance.

Mr Barroso has admitted that some member countries of the European Union have not come up with money that was pledged for financial aid to Africa; it is urging them to catch up and will argue at the Heiligendamm meeting that all commitments must be met.

“Debt relief and aid are crucial, but there is so much more to do …”, he said.

“We will also discuss issues like how to improve investment conditions, political dialogue on good governance, human rights and the rule of law as well as how to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.”

He said a third main topic would be efforts to re-start global trade negotiations, which could go ahead if others “followed the European example” by cutting trade-related subsidies to their industries, especially in agriculture.

The presence of President Vladimir Putin at the G8, (Russia joined in 1998), will generate some tension; not another Cold war but certainly a chilly peace.

He has been in disagreement with the Europeans over human rights, trade relations with former Soviet satellite countries of Eastern Europe, and their demand for more assured supplies of oil and gas.

This week he has spoken of a “new arms race” and even of targeting Europe with missiles once again, because of American plans to set up anti-ballistic missile bases in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Picture: G8 logo 2007