Activists Slam G8 Aid Shell Game in Toronto

“No maple leaf is big enough to hide the shame of Canada’s summit of broken promises” — Oxfam

Canada spent $1.2 billion hosting G8/G20 Summits

By Stephen Leahy

BERLIN, Jun 26, 2010 (IPS)

The G8 bloc of wealthy nations promised five billion dollars Saturday for health and nutrition programmes that benefit women and children in developing countries.

The five-year Muskoka initiative announced at the annual G8 meeting, this year outside of Toronto, is intended to help prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of women and babies who currently die during childbirth each year. Nearly eight million children, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, die before they reach the age of five.

Flavia Bustreo, director of the Geneva-based Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which represents more than 300 global and national organisations, welcomed the world’s richest countries’ focus on maternal and child health, which is a historical first, she said.

However, she told IPS from Geneva, “The glass is half-full when it comes to their financial commitment.”

Oxfam and other NGOs also charge that G8 donor nations have been playing a shell game – making multi-billion-dollar commitments at such meetings but without increasing their overall spending on overseas development aid.

“No maple leaf is big enough to hide the shame of Canada’s summit of broken promises,” said Mark Fried, spokesperson for Oxfam. Continue reading

G8 Failure to Launch on Potential Climate Catastrophe

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Analysis by Stephen Leahy

BERLIN, Jul 13 (IPS)

The G8’s failure to make meaningful commitments on climate last week pushes the world ever closer to global climate catastrophe, experts warn. Without commitments to take action, there is little comfort in G8 countries’ agreement to keep overall global warming below 2.0 degrees Celsius.

“If they took the 2.0-degree commitment seriously, it would imply a vigourous and immediate carbon emission reduction programme, said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University in the U.S.

“It would mean carbon emissions would have to peak by 2020 and decline. That’s a tall order but that’s what needs to happen to stabilise at around 2.0 degrees C,” Oppenheimer told IPS.

The Group of Eight of the world’s largest economies comprises Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada, Japan and the United States.

Climate experts stress that 2.0 degrees is not in any way a guarantee of safety. There are already significant impacts currently from climate change. However, from what scientists know today, risks increase markedly over 2.0 degrees of warming, Oppenheimer warned.

Global temperatures have already risen 0.8 C in the last hundred years and will reach 1.2 to 1.5 C based on emissions already in the atmosphere.

“The climate system is unpredictable. Two degrees is just a guideline,” Oppenheimer said. Continue reading