"The Most Important G8 Gathering In A Decade" Ends

(Farida Bena at Oxfam explaining why food prices are rising around the world)

While the dear leaders of the world's most rich and powerful countries discussed the issue of the international food crisis and climate change, Oxfam highlighted why the rapid growth in biofuels is making millions more people vulnerable to extreme poverty.

The real winners of the G8 Summit here in Japan may very well have been the NGOs. Because not much happened, the journalists seemed unusually willing to present the views of civil society. At least in Japanese media, it has been great to read quotes on a daily basis with comments based on the vast experience of many NGO campaigners. Two days ago, we asked if NGOs are stealing the show. As the summit ended today, I think the answer is an obvious YES.A few final thoughts: The European Union and environmental groups have been saying that rich countries must take the lead and specify interim, numerical targets for how to reach the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists say is the minimum needed to prevent dangerous global warming. Since the G8 Summit couldn't agree on this, I suppose most feel it is a disappointment. Yet, are we all ready to stop driving? Stop eating meat? Stop wasting coal and oil to heat our houses? And are we really ready to start telling others, who may not yet agree on this, that it must be done?

"We would like to exert leadership along with other G8 countries so that emerging countries such as China and India also share the long-term goal and adopt it in U.N. negotiations," Japan's prime minister Yasuo Fukuda said, referring to U.N. talks that will get everyone to agree on a broader pact to fight climate change by the end of 2009 at Copenhagen, Denmark.

Perhaps it is the global food crisis that will make the message easier to communicate. Or peak oil, as more people are forced to rethink their driving habits. As Oxfam points out, biofuels cannot replace oil without creating other severe problems.

What this summit taught a lot of people, and what I would like to credit the NGOs with making so clear (if you read their material and visit websites and go to their meetings and talk to the activists!) is that all the issues are connected. Perhaps the G8 Summit at Lake Toya in Hokkaido, Japan can be remembered for that.

Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

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