Has the G8 climate really changed?

The G8 yesterday announced their agreement on climate change. And while it has the appearance of success, we here at Oxfam still have issues about what they’ve agreed. I’ve only been working on climate change for a few months, but what I do know is that it’s already hitting people in developing countries first and worst. And without adequate money and the proper support systems to deal with the problem, these people will carry on suffering and it will only get worse – more droughts, more floods, more famine. More poverty.

But the world can work towards solving this problem. And that’s what we at Oxfam wanted to see from the G8 - commitment to preventing further devastating effects of climate change and proper support for developing countries to combat global warming that rich countries have caused.

What the G8 statement showed yesterday was that they are committed to keep talking about it through the United Nations - which does have promise for the future. It means that developing countries will be included in the discussions and will be able to demand what they need.

But what astounded me about yesterday’s outcome was the continuing lack of real commitment from some G8 members, including the USA, the world’s biggest polluter. Where Europe, Japan, and Canada reaffirmed their aim to cut carbon emission by half by 2050, the US failed to sign up to any specific targets or even to agree a stabilisation goal.

I was talking to my friend Antonio earlier about this. He’s here as Oxfam’s climate change extraordinaire and he said, “It’s so disappointing that some G8 members have failed to sign up to specific targets. It means the world still faces dangerous levels of global warming and that’s gonna devastate poor countries, and the lives of millions of people”.

I say that now is the time that’s critical for us to act. It’s great the G8 have taken a small step forward – but it’s simply not enough. I want to know that my leader is doing everything in his power to make sure the poorest people do not have to suffer from the carbon my country emits. I want a world based on justice and equality, where what I consume does not have negative impacts on others. And I believe we can do it if we keep the pressure up and act together to influence the decision-makers, who are moving at a snail’s pace, when they should be running like cheetahs.

On the penultimate day of the G8 Summit, with world leaders having progressed few decisions on the fate of Africa and the world’s poor, Oxfam’s ‘Big Heads’ have been cavorting away their time in Germany on the beach outside the G8 Summit highlighting this potentially wasted opportunity. Credit: Craig Owen / Oxfam International
By Becks Gowland, Oxfam campaigner
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