G8 Meeting Ends in Germany with Weak Promises on Climate Change and Africa

The G8 summit ended last Friday in Germany with–as is frequently the case–little in terms of concrete promises from G8 nations despite much touted statements on global warming and aid to Africa.

photo of protests at 2007 g8 meeting

Largely echoing the 2005 G8 (Group of 8) Summit in Scotland in 2005, the annual G8 summit has ended with a series of meaningless statements on “climate change” and aid to Africa. The summit, described by many observers as the most divided in the G8’s 32-year existence (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/06/372876.html), failed to accomplish its pre-summit goals on climate change and has received widespread criticism from NGOs.

Despite a “compromise” deal on climate change that overcame some opposition from the United States and recognized the danger of global warming, the G8 has been criticized by environmental groups for failing to take serious steps to address global warming. The United States and Russia agreed only to “consider” steps being taken by other nations and made no pledge to reduce their emissions. The six remaining G8 nations pledged to reduce emissions, although the G8’s statements are non-binding. Greenpeace rejected the G8’s actions, summarizing them with the statement “G8 to act on climate change, later… maybe,” as did Friends of the Earth.

On aid to Africa, the G8’s actions were similar. Despite the G8’s continued statements that they will live up to previous promises of aid to Africa, Oxfam criticized the G8 for breaking their 2005 promise on aid to Africa. While the summit pledged “new” aid to Africa, Oxfam pointed out that this at most amount to $3 billion in aid or $27 billion short of the $30 billion promised in 2005. Aid for HIV prevention in Africa will also fall short of the 2005 goal, reaching only $23 billion of the $50 billion by 2010. The announcements of new aid were described by NGOs as “smokescreens” designed to hide the dismal failure of the G8 on Africa.

Protests at the summit received substantial media coverage early on following clashes between police and protestors the weekend before the summit began. Throughout the week, there were a series of protests targeting both the G8 and capitalism, and addressing issues ranging from migration to agriculture. Once the summit began, protestors effectively blockaded the summit for two days, turning away delegates and forcing them to be brought in via helicopter. Protests were held outside of Germany as well, with solidarity demonstrations taking place in a variety of cities including Portland, Chicago, and San Francisco in the United States and around the world St. Petersburg, Santiago, and Thessaloniki.

Throughout the summit, the corporate media’s coverage downplayed the reasons why people were opposed to the G8, highlighted protestor “violence,” and favorably reported on the G8’s “action” on climate change and Africa. Aside from the excellent coverage of the protests provided by the Indymedia network–in particular the Germany and UK sites–protestors also focused on deconstructing the corporate media and public relations “spin” surrounding the protest. The Unspin the G8 website features an archive of corporate media coverage of the summit and analyses of how the coverage frames messages about the G8 and the protestors.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org