Africa and the G8 emissions [Archives:2007/1058/Viewpoint]

June 11 2007

Apparently the increase in drastic climate changes such as hurricanes, floods, and cyclones – latest being very close to our part of the world – are caused by increasing emissions from industrial countries. The issue of climate change and global warming has been a point of everlasting debate. Some claim – like John Crichton's State of Fear – that global warming is a myth used by some people to get money out of industrial countries. However, others express great concern that the increasing emissions are causing the sudden climate changes and hence must be stopped or reduced.

Climate change was one of the main topics of the latest G8 summit in Germany. The leaders of the G8 countries (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States) committed themselves to elevating the greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Kyoto Protocol (which USA is the only country of the lot that hadn't signed).

Africa was the most important point on the agenda. And despite the pledged promises to support African countries in their fight against AIDS and poverty by 60 million dollars, critics say it is not enough. It was reported that “The G8's announcement, entitled Growth and Responsibility in Africa, was greeted with disappointment and derision by development agencies and other campaigners. The Gleneagles agreement of 2005 committed the world's leading nations to providing free anti-retroviral treatment for all – approximately 10m people. But yesterday's announcement appears to go back on those figures, only committing the G8 to provide treatment for 5 million HIV/AIDS sufferers.”

An African journalist from Kenya was commenting on the west's, and recently China's interest in Africa by saying: “I wish they'd only leave us alone. African countries are extremely rich. Nigeria is the third largest producer of oil in the world. Keep your hands off Africa and it will work out its issues on its own.” However many of the activists around the world disagree because of the high corruption and unaccountability of African governments. Campaigners criticizing the results of the summit acknowledged the commitment of the G8 to “a strong interest in a stable, democratic and prosperous Africa”, but added that, “Good governance in Africa is vital to peace, stability, sustainable development and growth. Without good governance, all other reforms will have limited impacts.”

Japan is to host the G8 summit in 2008. My feeling is that summit will defiantly steer the wheel into more practical steps and especially with regards to trade and development.