World Leaders Prepare for G-8 Summit
Among the major topics to be discussed at the annual Group of Eight Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland: climate change and the threat of global warming and increased economic aid to poor nations in Africa.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who will host the conference, has described global warming as “probably the most serious threat we face.” He has urged G8 leaders to come to an agreement on ways to take action.
The Kyoto Protocol, an agreement signed by the major industrial nations to slow global warming, is the premier international treaty guiding emissions regulations. The United States is the only G-8 nation that has not ratified the treaty.
In an interview on British television Monday, President Bush reiterated his stance against the treaty and expressed hopes that summit leaders would find other solutions.
“My hope is — and I think the hope of Tony Blair is — to move beyond the Kyoto debate and to collaborate on new technologies that will enable the United States and other countries to diversify away from fossil fuels so that the air will be cleaner and that we have the economic and national security that comes from less dependence on foreign sources of oil,” he said.
Though the president called climate change “a significant, long-term issue that we’ve got to deal with,” he said the Kyoto agreement could harm the U.S. economy.
“I think you can grow your economy and at the same time do a better job of harnessing greenhouse gases. That’s exactly what I want to talk to our partners about,” the president said.
Also topping Blair’s agenda for the three-day talks is the need to fight poverty in Africa.
In June, the recently re-elected British leader visited Washington where he urged President Bush to join other nations in doubling aid contributions to African countries to $50 billion a year.
Bush refused the proposal, but has budgeted some $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS on the continent.
On Tuesday, the leaders of several African countries met in Libya to formalize a statement that they will deliver to summit leaders Friday requesting aid.
More than 40 percent of Africans live on less than $1 a day, according to Reuters. AIDS kills more than 2 million people in Africa each year and some 200 million people are threatened by food shortages.
“It’s not about charity, it’s about justice,” Britain’s international development secretary Hilary Benn, who attended the African Union meeting, told Reuters.
“But in the end it’s going to be economic development, opening up the world trading system, enabling Africa to earn and trade its way out of poverty that’s really going to make the difference, and for that to happen you also need peace and stability, good governance, and we have heard all that very clearly from the African Union summit,” she said.
Also Tuesday, on the eve of the summit, Scottish police were preparing for more protests near the posh Scottish golf resort where the G-8 leaders will meet.
“Make no bones about it, if we encounter people who are prepared to use violence to achieve their aims … we will take robust action,” John Vine, the chief constable of Tayside Police, the department responsible for summit security, told Reuters.
On Saturday, some 200,000 people marched through Edinburgh, about 40 miles southeast of Gleneagles, in mass demonstrations against the world powers.
The demonstrations coincided with a series of concerts known as Live 8 that took place in 10 cities around the world to raise awareness of poverty in parts of Africa.
“We are asking them to be great,” Live 8 organizer and former rocker Bob Geldof said of the G-8 leaders, according to the New York Times. It would be a “grotesque failure” if the meeting produced little result, he said.