Aid agencies say G8 has used 'language of procrastination'

pic - OXFAM: 'G8 cooking up a storm over climate change'

pic - OXFAM: 'G8 cooking up a storm over climate change'

Yesterday’s communiqué on global economy, climate change and aid contained a lot of good intentions and insufficient concrete statements, aid agencies are saying this morning.  CAFOD  has broken down the negotiating language to see just how solid the rich nations’ announcements are.

The final communiqué contains:

    * 85 “commitments” entered into, renewed or reaffirmed
    * 70 affirmations of “support”
    * 25 commitments/promises to “strengthen” or to “strengthening” existing processes or institutions
    * 21 statements that we “continue” or “will continue” to support efforts etc
    * 19 “reaffirmations” previous commitments, promises etc
    * 7 statements beginning “we are determined”
    * 6 promises to “accelerate” processes
    * 4 promises to “reinforce” efforts or programmes
    * 4 statements beginning “we will intensify”
    * 3 statements saying that “our efforts” are being intensified, reinforced, strengthened
    * 3 statements beginning “we reconfirm”

Joanne Green, CAFOD head of policy, says: “The G8 has reaffirmed its aid promises to the world’s poorest, but let’s not forget that that’s just saying 'we’ll actually do what we said we’d do four years ago'.

"And crucially there’s nothing to confirm how that will be achieved. When the language of the communiqué is so heavily infused with enthusiasm rather than solid action, we have to be sceptical.

"The accountability framework gives some hope and CAFOD welcomes it as a step in the right direction. Although we had a breakthrough on 2 degrees, the emissions targets are not strong enough and not backed up with commitment on funding developing countries’ strategy for coping with climate change.”



On aid the G8 has reaffirmed their commitment to the 2005 promise to double aid to Africa by 2010, but considering the failure of Italy and France to deliver on the previous promise, we are sceptical about the meaningfulness of this one.

In a bid to improve delivery, the UK has managed to get an accountability framework agreed which would publish each year how G8 countries are doing on each of their previous promises. We hope this will mean the G8 is no longer able to sidestep responsibilities or break promises.

Climate change

Yesterday’s climate change communiqué showed signs of progress from previous statements but it’s painfully slow. For the first time the world’s richest agreed that it would be a good thing if average global temperatures did not rise above 2 degrees. This is the level scientists say we shouldn’t go over if we are to avert dangerous climate change.

They also agreed that rich countries should try to cut their own emissions by 80% by 2050 in order to meet that target. However, they crucially faltered over the 1990 baseline for these cuts which is critical to make them meaningful.

Most disappointing was the abject failure of the G8 to provide any leadership on the financing or access to technology that will be needed to be provided by them if these targets are to be reached.

Developing countries are currently unwilling to come to the UN negotiating table because they feel it is unfair to expect them to bear the financial burden for adapting to climate change and shifting their economies onto a greener footing.

It is critical that President Obama, in his role of chair or the Major Economies Forum, is able to increase the pace of progress today, time is running out.

Economy and private sector

There were lots of warm words on reforming the economy: who doesn't want "more robust, green, inclusive and sustainable" growth?

And they listed all the essential areas to achieve this: regulation, anti-corruption, taxation, trade, investment, innovation, and again said a lot of the right things. However, there is no detail on how they will put these good intentions into practice. And there are big assumptions about the way they will be delivered. For example, the idea that foreign investment brings technology transfer and that it is appropriate and affordable is a huge assumption. In addition, a lot of the tools governments used to encourage technology transfer are undermined in free trade agreements and other international agreements, often with these same G8 countries.

It’s great that the G8 has agreed the principle of sound macroeconomic and regulatory frameworks for the private sector and we were pleased to see the references to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Decent Work agenda which outlines a set of standards for sustainable employment which protects human rights. But how are these things going to be followed up? Reliance on CSR and voluntary standards is not going to be enough to ensure responsible business practices.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a case in point. Every year the G8 gives their support to it and calls on candidate countries to complete validation in the agreed time frame but from the experience of the last six years it's clear that EITI which is a voluntary approach is not going to be enough. In order to meet their stated objective of 'increasing public revenues, reducing corruption, conflict and violence fuelled by revenues from natural resources' CAFOD would argue that G8 governments now need to be taking this agenda forward e.g. with actions requiring this level of disclosure from all extractives companies and including transparency of contracts as well as revenues within the EITI model.


The G8 has shown that they recognise that developed countries have a role to play in combating corruption and it’s not just something that takes place in developing countries. More specifically, it is good that they call for ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and importantly emphasise the need for an effective, transparent and inclusive review mechanism. Also good is the commitment to deny safe haven to corrupt individuals.

The international development agency Progression commented in a statement: "The G8¹s promises to cut CO2 emissions and invest in global food security are welcome but must be accompanied by concrete action and appropriate funding which prioritises the needs of the world¹s poor and marginalised.

"During the summit, the world¹s eight richest countries pledged to work towards 80% cuts in their own emissions by 2050 and to mobilise US$20bn to help poor countries with rural development in a bid to improve global access to food."

Progressio¹s Advocacy Manager, Tim Aldred, said: "On paper these proposals sound promising but they fall short of pledges of adequate funding and are worryingly short on detail. What kind of agriculture is the G8 talking about? Will they invest in the 1.4bn small-scale farmers who are crucial to ensuring global food security or just line the pockets of carbon unfriendly agricultural production?"

He continued: "Evidence from Progressio's partner organisations shows that we ignore small-scale farmers at our peril. They feed almost a third of the world¹s population but their farming methods and needs are woefully unsupported by richer nations."

Developed and developing countries also agreed that global temperatures should not exceed two degrees above 1990 levels, at which point the UN says the world¹s climate would become unstable.

Tim Aldred added: "An agreement on two degrees is an historic step but a great deal more is needed from rich countries if we are to halt the potentially disastrous effects of climate change. Warm words must be converted into solid action at the climate change conference in Copenhagen this December."

Source: CAFOD/OXFAM/Progressio

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