Heiligendamm, Germany - June 6-8, 2007
Climate change and "growth and responsibility in Africa" head the agenda of the June 6 – 8, 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed rigorous action to counter the harmful effects of global warming – especially those that threaten to increase drought, heat waves and floods in already impoverished regions of Africa. But US President George W. Bush has opposed strict caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Activists protesting the G8 meeting have called for the group of eight major industrial nations to fulfill their 2005 Gleneagles summit pledges for increased international aid and debt relief. NGOs monitoring these pledges report that at the current rate of progress, wealthy governments will not meet these targets until 2108. The Heiligendamm summit's extreme security measures – including a seven mile fence encircling the Baltic seaside resort – are seen by protestors as more proof of a divided world in which the elite G8 leaders separate themselves from the rest.
Articles and Documents
This OneWorld article reports on the "Alternative Summit," organized by a group of social justice and environmental NGOs to oppose the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm. Speaking at the Alternative Summit, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler called for an end to G8 summits, arguing that the world's wealthiest countries have promoted a globalization that has increased poverty among the poor. The UN representative also called for the elimination of farm subsidies by the G8 countries.
This Inter Press Service article reports that activists, many of whom rallied in Heiligendamm, are disappointed after G8 leaders failed to resolve most of the issues they had set out to address. The summit participants made "two vague, non-binding promises" to increase aid to Africa and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They did not address the harm that international trade policies cause to poor nations, nor Kosovo's potential independence. Many critics consider the G8's pledges a futile effort to conceal the overall failure of the extremely costly summit.
's Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) measures poverty based on education, child mortality and reproductive health. This 2007 BCI report
finds that at the current rate of progress, "a minimum set of social services" will not be universally accessible in Sub-Saharan Africa until 2108 – almost a century beyond the Millennium Development Goals target date of 2015. Social Watch calls on the world's wealthiest countries to seize the opportunity of the June G8 summit "to fulfill their side of the agreement" by increasing aid and debt relief to Africa.
Arguing that the effects of climate change in developing countries "will wipe out all efforts to help the poor through commitments such as aid," G8 protestors have called for the group of eight industrial nations to take definitive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The activists underscore the link between global warming and poverty, and state that the 2007 G8 summit must address both simultaneously "for there to be real improvement in [the] living conditions" of the world's poorest people. (Inter Press Service)
Reflecting their growing economic and political power, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa will attend the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. Among the issues high on the summit agenda is climate change and an international agreement on environmental protection.China and India are two of the world's worst polluters, but as developing nations, they do not have to abide by the Kyoto Protocol. This Inter Press Service article points out that the European Union is pressuring them to begin using cleaner energy resources. (Inter Press Service)
At this year's G8 summit, the heads of government will most likely not discuss their farm subsidies that prevent African nations from developing. At the 2005 Gleneagles summit, the G8 agreed to reduce agricultural subsidies but since then governments have actually increased their farm support. In the meantime, the EU has promised that it will revise its subsidies to farmers by 2013. (Inter Press Service)
This Red Pepper article argues that the carbon emissions trading schemes promoted by G8 countries "defer genuine climate action while generating massive profits for the largest polluters." Although climate change will likely be a key issue on the agenda of the June G8 summit, the author predicts that the meeting will fail to produce effective measures to prevent global warming.
As part of Washington's ongoing effort to undermine the June G8 summit declaration on global warming, the US intends to block all references to the urgency of climate change. This Globe and Mail article reports that the Bush administration plans to replace the declaration's call for "resolute and concerted international action" with the watered-down statement that climate change "is a long-term issue that will require a diversity of approaches."
Despite repeated promises, G8 leaders have thus far failed to fulfill their 2005 Gleneagles summit pledges for increased international aid and debt relief. This World Economy and Development in Brief article calls on the G8 to go beyond "important sounding announcements" and "small sectoral initiatives" at the 2007 Heiligendamm summit and instead show leadership in addressing world poverty and ensuring achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
This Der Spiegel article highlights the preparations undertaken by the German government for the June G8 summit in the "normally sleepy seaside resort" of Heiligendamm. In anticipation of as many as 100,000 protestors, the host country has mobilized 16,000 policemen, over one thousand members of the German military, and nine navy vessels – making the G8 summit "one of the largest ever domestic military deployments in post-war Germany." Officials have furthermore surrounded the resort with a 7.5 mile barbed wire fence, seen by opponents of the G8 as "yet more proof of a divided world in which the rich and powerful separate themselves from the rest."