Gray Panthers of San Francisco
July 2007 Newsletter

Empty Promises from G8, Again!


The G8 countries meeting this June in Heiligendamm, Germany did little to address major problems confronting the world in the years to come.

Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the US and UK agreed to work through the UN on a successor to the Kyoto protocol, but set no specific targets for reducing greenhouse gases and avoided the much hoped for commitment to keep world temperatures from rising more than 2ºC. Nor did they expand the talks to include the big emerging economies — China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa (the so-called O5).

The meeting’s highly touted focus on poverty and disease in Africa was another case of smoke and mirrors. Although G8 leaders reconfirmed their commitment to double official development assistance (ODA) to Africa, they have not yet met the goals they set in 2005, and in fact overall ODA has fallen since then. Desperately needed regulatory action on hedge funds, especially those buying up the debt of poor countries at cheap prices, then charging far more than the original debt, was dropped when President Bush failed to attend that morning’s session (see Greg Palast’s reports on vulture funds on Democracy Now! on February 15 and June 11, 2007).

The G8 promised $60 billion to reduce illness and mortality caused by HIV, TB, and malaria in Africa, where these diseases hit hardest—but most of it repeated an earlier promise, rather than an actual increase in aid. The US’s contribution to the fight against these diseases was $3.4 billion in 2006, a year in which 2.9 million died of AIDS, 2 million of TB, and over a million of malaria. US military expenditures were $529 billion the same year.

The 12-kilometer steel fence, 16,000 police, and more than a thousand soldiers needed to protect the handful of G8 leaders in Heiligendamm are an apt metaphor for the anger and despair they provoke by this willful neglect of the world’s needs

(back to July 2007 Newsletter front page)