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Posted on on July 9th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Thursday, July 9, 2009

G8 summit gets off to rough start – Hu’s exit damages climate talks as emerging economies challenge the industrialized powers

Staff writer, The Japan Times online. – Japan Time – Thursday, July 9, 2009.

ROME — With the relevance of the Group of Eight being challenged by emerging powers, the G8 leaders got down to business Wednesday addressing climate change and what their next move might be when and if the global recession subsides.

But the launch of the three-day G8 summit in L’Aquila was spoiled even before it began, with Chinese President Hu Jintao returning home to get a handle on the ethnic riots tearing apart the restive city of Urumqi in the northwest.

A shadow also grew over the climate change issue as chances appeared slim that the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, or MEF, would be able to hammer out long-term greenhouse gas emissions cuts, Japanese diplomatic sources said.

The key multinational emissions forum was to meet Thursday on the sidelines of the summit in the Italian mountain town.

The sources said MEF preparatory negotiations failed to bridge the gap between members of the industrialized and developing countries, effectively dashing hopes of achieving a substantial agreement.
Hu’s absence exacerbated the MEF discord, the sources said.

An initially prepared MEF draft declaration pledged a global emissions reduction of 50 percent by 2050, with industrialized countries promising an 80 percent cut in the same time frame, they said.

The 17-member MEF was established in March under the initiative of U.S. President Barack Obama to complete the groundwork for forging a new international carbon-capping framework to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Along with the G8, major greenhouse gas emitters China, India and Brazil are also members of the MEF.

Despite the forum’s apparent inability to produce tangible results, the G8 was nevertheless expected to issue a joint statement on climate change later in the day, in addition to discussing the global economy, the sources said.

The eight leaders were expected to share views on how not to jeopardize the “green shoots” of recovery being seen in some areas, as well as “exit strategies” for reversing the heavy fiscal stimulus that many countries embraced to revive their economies, the sources said, adding that how to stave off global unemployment was also on the agenda.

During a working dinner, the G8 was expected to focus on political matters, including domestic unrest in Iran and North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, who agreed Tuesday to reduce the size of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, were expected to lead the discussion on global denuclearization.

For Prime Minister Taro Aso,denuclearization and how to end North Korea’s nuclear threat are expected to be key concerns.

Earlier this month, Foreign Ministry officials in Tokyo listed five key themes for this year’s summit: Iran, North Korea, global denuclearization, the Middle East peace process and the war in Afghanistan.

The L’Aquila summit concludes Friday after assistance to Africa is discussed. But with emerging economic powers like Brazil and India being kept outside the discussion framework, critics say any talks held within the G-8 alone are incapable of resolving global economic issues.

In that sense, the Thursday meeting with the emerging powers will have more relevance than the G-8 itself, they said.

But Japanese officials defended the G-8 framework, saying its agreements are still influential in forming the base for discussions with other economic powers.

The G-8 includes the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and Russia.

—————— take on the Wednesday-Thursday-Friday July 8-10, 2009 meetings follows:

President Obama of the US came to Rome after having achieved an agreement with the Medvedev/Putin leadership of Russia on what concerns nuclear arms reduction and certain aspects of non-proliferation. Those issues allow thus for US leadership at the G8 meeting. On the other hand, at the Obama created G-16 + the EU and the UN meeting on climate change, the fact that the US is well behind Europe on the main issues on Global Warming, the US is really not in position of leadership.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK is in very weakened internal position so he is no great asset at the G8 table.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper leads now a weak minority government and does not radiate influence either.

Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso is just as weak at home as Messrs. Brown and Harper and thus not really in a leadership position either.

Italy’s Berlusconi, thanks to his personal peccadilloes, is rather an international joke, even though his countrymen may think his behavior charming. His country-women – that is those that did not profit from his closeness – may think differently.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is in best position of them all when it comes to the issues of climate change, but in what concerns applying stimulus packages in Europe she is just slow or lacks interest as she saw that this might not have brought in the US the results that the Obama administration was promising to Americans and the world. She clearly has no intention to cooperate in what she is not convinced that it works, and is also critical of the US lack of progress in alternatives to the old fossil-fuels based economy. We do not think that President Obama will be able to convince her to change her mind during the three days of these meetings.

France’s President Nicolas Sarcozy is strong politically at home – so here no problems – but when it comes to evaluating his two years in office, one has difficulty finding his international agenda – thus another non-leader for these events.

Russia’s double-headed eagle – President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin – will rest on the perch and don’t expect them to lead either.

Looking at the above and at the ruins of the earth-quake damaged Italian age-old city of L’Aquila, one can only hope for reconstruction if the world is going to see a better economy in the future and in the process also create a program of what to do with the pesky issue of climate change. Let us face the reality that there is little chance to achieve progress at the   July 2009 meetings.


Thursday there is the meeting of 17 members that is the G16 + the EU – or actually the G8 + G5 (Brazil, India, China,   Mexico, South Africa) + Australia, Indonesia, Korea,   and the EU.

Those are the 17 that were invited to participate at the State Department building, in Washington DC, meeting for climate talks under the Major Economies Forum (MEF) April 27, 2009. That meeting was organized by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Later there was also a meeting in Mexico City and in September 2009 they will have yet another meeting in Pittsburgh. The intent was to come up with an agreement to be presented before the Copenhagen climate meeting this December.

OK – so where are we now? Did the US and China formally agree on how to proceed jointly on the effort to find a G2 solution? But really we will not find out if this is the case on Thursday, July 9, 2009. Chinese President Hu Jintao returned home today to deal with the ethnic riots tearing apart the restive city of Urumqi in the Muslim Northwest Province of Xinjang, and without him present there is little sense for the Thursday meeting. India also does not seem to be ready to let the OECD countries of the hook so indeed setting only long term targets without well funded immediate action will not do this time. India just released its budget plans and worldwide there are reactions that the government did not plan enough as stimulus packages either. Indeed, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will be going mid July to India like she did go to China at the start of her taking over at State. Will she be able to come up with better understanding with India, while it seems to the Indians that the US is back to a pre Bush China-first policy?

Also Indonesia will not be there as President Yudhoyono just was having a reelection campaign that it seems he won.


Friday is the last day and it is dedicated to the provision of funds for Africa. OK – this subject will get some figures and it will be $15 Billion that President Obama pushed for – as aid for poor farmers – and when President Obama will be on Saturday in Ghana he will be able to present those figures to his African hosts.

Our prediction is thus that from L’Anquila the main product of these meetings will be a new promis for Africa. Will it be funded this time in reality – that is something to check upon later. But then a serious review regarding Africa is really in the making indeed. The key is to be henceforth less reliance on food aid from subsidized produce in the US and the EU, and more investments and help in order to build up local agriculture in Africa – as the future economy of Africa. Some of the African NGOs have finally spoken up that the relliance on food hand-outs has destroyed Africans’ potential to feed themselves.


Will the real legacy of L’Anquila be that the G8 has lost its relevance in a world where most of the so called great economies are indeed dependent for their well being on some of the members of the lesser G5? With China, India and Brazil not part of the august post-World War II group is there any reason for the separate G8 pow wow? Would not going directly to a more updated group have been more effective? Then what about the EU? Could it not be practical to letthe member states finally decide that they could speak with one voice? If that is not the case why litter the G16 with an added presence at a time that the UN is rightly not mentioned at all?


G8 must galvanise talks on warming.
The Financial Times, July 8 2009

The summit meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised nations that opened in Italy on Wednesday looks increasingly like an event in search of a purpose. The more broadly based G20, including China and India among others, is the place where deals on the global economy are being done. So what is the point of the G8?

The answer should be: to galvanise the debate on climate change. A consensus is needed between the rich and poor for a new deal to slow down global warming. It is supposed to be finalised by the United Nations at Copenhagen in December. But to have any hope of progress there, the leaders gathered in L’Aquila this week must give a clear sense of direction.

The European Union has been consistently in the lead in setting ambitious targets to cut emissions. The good news now is that the US president is engaged and enthusiastic. Barack Obama will co-chair Thursday’s meeting of the 17-member Major Economies Forum, including both China and India. The bad news is that Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, has gone home to deal with the ethnic unrest in Xinjiang. But that should not give an excuse for indecision.

The first ominous sign is that the two sides have not agreed on a target of halving global emissions by 2050. That is the minimum necessary to ensure that the rise in global temperatures should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius, the danger level agreed by scientists. It would require the developed economies to cut their emissions by 80 per cent, to allow developing economies to pollute more as they grow faster. But China is not prepared to sign up to the target until there are more concessions on the table. It is hard to understand, as China stands to be a big beneficiary.

India is also playing hard to get. Delhi will not move on a complete package until there is more money on the table, with rich countries paying the poor to mitigate the effects of global warming, and adapt to them. Such an attitude could scupper any deal.

The G8 leaders can and should do more. In particular, they should start work on a commercial mechanism via the cap-and-trade system to finance bigger transfers from rich to poor. That would be politically more acceptable than straight handouts. The EU might also unilaterally increase its target to cut emissions in 2020 from 20 to 30 per cent. Both the US and Japan need to set more ambitious targets for 2020 as well as 2050. But in the end, a deal on climate change is not just for the rich to do. The poor will suffer most if it fails.


Nations agree to steeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions
By Fiona Harvey in London, and Guy Dinmore and George,Parker in L’Aquila
Published: July 9 2009 03:00 | Last updated: July 9 2009 03:00
The Group of Eight industrialised countries yesterday agreed to more stringent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than ever before.

The G8, meeting in Italy, pledged to take on the lion’s share of the emissions reductions scientists say are needed, with cuts of 80 per cent by 2050 for developed countries. This would contribute to a hoped-for target of halving emissions globally by the same date.

They also resolved to try to hold global temperature rises to no more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists regard as the limit of safety.

This is the first time such a target has been formally adopted in a leading international forum. Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, hailed the deal as “historic”.

But British officials said there was “no chance” that these targets would also be agreed by a wider group of countries, including emerging economies, meeting today on climate change.

Leaders of 16 of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries are meeting at the G8 at the request of Barack Obama, US president.

He called the meeting, known as the Major Economies Forum, which he is co-chairing with Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister, to break the deadlock in climate change talks aimed at producing a successor to the Kyoto protocol at a conference in Copenhagen in December.

It is the first time leaders of all the big emitters have held a summit on climate change. The United Nations secretary-general held a meeting for world leaders in 2007, but George W. Bush, then US president, turned up only for the dinner at the end.

However, China and India have so far refused to agree to the target of halving global emissions by 2050, despite assurances that the G8 will take on the largest slice of the burden.

The early departure of Hu Jintao, China’s president, from the meeting yesterday made any change in position even less likely.

One of the aims of the MEF was to bring leaders of the main emitting countries together so that they could allow their environment ministers – who attend the UN negotiations – greater latitude in making a deal.

Anantha Guruswamy, Greenpeace programme director, said China and India had refused to sign up to the global target because the G8 club of rich nations had not put forward proposals for financing emissions cuts and measures to adapt to climate change in poor countries.

“It is up to Obama to show leadership on this,” he added.

Beijing and Delhi also want rich countries to agree higher targets on cutting emissions by 2020 than they have come up with.

The 16 countries in the MEF produce 80 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. The European Union and Denmark, as host of the Copenhagen conference, also attend its meetings.


to be a bit more exact the first 9 out of the 16 – CO2 emissions in billions of metric tons, 2006 are as follows – and if you wish it is about 75% just for the first 8 total and they are not the old G8.

China     6.0

US           5.9

Russia     1.7

India       1.3

Japan       1.3

Germany     0.9

Canada         0.6

UK               0.6

S. Korea       0.5


Obama insists world climate accord possible.

By George Parker and Guy Dinmore in L’Aquila and Fiona Harvey in London
The Financial Times,   July 9 2009

Barack Obama, US president, insisted on Thursday there was still time for the world to agree binding commitments to cut greenhouse emissions, in spite of stalemate at the G8 summit in L’Aquila.

Mr Obama takes centre stage in the Italian town on Thursday when he chairs a session on global warming, bringing together 17 rich and emerging economies, including China and Brazil.

US diplomats say there is no chance that the countries will agree to cut world emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 – from a still undecided baseline of 1990 or later. They are however likely to agree on an aspiration to stop temperatures rising more than 2 degrees centigrade compared with pre-industrial levels.

The early departure of Hu Jintao, China’s president of China, from the meeting made any change in position on cuts even less likely.

But Mr Obama believes an agreement on binding intermediate targets – for a deadline sometime before 2050 – can be reached before a UN climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.

Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman, said Mr Obama told President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil that “there was still time in which they could close the gap on that disagreement in time for that important [meeting]”.

Mr Obama is seen as a pivotal figure in reaching any Copenhagen agreement, but months of tense negotiations lie ahead.

India, China and other big emerging economies want to be sure the west is serious about meeting medium term targets for cutting emissions before they commit themselves. They also want money to help them clean up their industries.

The credibility of the G8 on climate change was challenged by Russia, which had earlier signed up to a communique by the group committing wealthy nations to an even more ambitious 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 – again with a still undecided baseline. The Russian delegation however has questioned whether such a long-term target is meaningful.

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, said progress on climate change at the G8 was so far “not enough”. He added: “This is politically and morally [an] imperative and historic responsibility … for the future of humanity, even for the future of the planet Earth.”


Further – the UN travelog:

UN DAILY NEWS from the
8 July, 2009 =========================================================================


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is heading today to the Italian city of L’Aquila, where he will meet with the leaders who are attending the annual summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, after wrapping up his first official visit to Ireland.

In a letter sent to G8 leaders ahead of their 8-10 July summit, Mr. Ban highlighted climate change and development as some of the current challenges requiring action.

Among other things, Mr. Ban asked G8 governments to take the lead on the issue of climate change by making “ambitious and firm commitments” to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 per cent, the levels the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says are required on the part of industrialized countries to ward off the worst effects of global warming.

On development, the Secretary-General urged the G8 to outline how donors will scale up aid to Africa over the next year to fulfil the commitments the Group made at its summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.

Mr. Ban departed for Italy from Ireland, where he met today with Irish Defence Minister Willie O’Dea. They travelled to the McKee Barracks, where the Secretary-General met with a group of veteran UN peacekeepers from Ireland and also took part in a ceremony paying respect to Irish peacekeepers that made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the Organization.

The UN chief is scheduled to travel again next week to attend the 15 July Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he will deliver an address encouraging the group to build on its leadership role to address some of today’s challenges, including disarmament, the economic crisis and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The eight MDGs – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education – have a target date of 2015, as agreed by world leaders in 2000.  

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