US U turn on climate, German Aid increase announced
Dear All ,
Things continued to move fast yesterday afternoon and today on both elements of the G8 agenda, Climate Change and Africa. President Bush made a speech yesterday which touched on both Africa and Climate Change. On Africa he reiterated the $30 billion 5 year continuation of the PEPFAR HIV/AIDS programme, and also proposed $525 million over five years for education. On Climate Change he made a spectacular U turn, calling for a global target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, something he has steadfastly refused to do for the past seven years. His turnaround on Climate Change was greated with muted suspicion however, as he also proposed that an alternative process of negotiations involving the biggest polluters, outside of the UN system, and he made no mention of the need to tie emmissions curbs to a specfic temperature goal- the central tenet of the German proposal for their G8.
Oxfam cautiously welcomed the turnaround, but expressed concern that Bush is suggesting a process outside of the official UN negotiations and one that excludes the poorest countries, despite their being the most vulnerable to its impacts. In terms of the G8 summit next week, it seems that the move by Bush is make the possiblity of a deal being brokered very unlikely, with the US proposal completely at odds with the deal proposed by Germany.
At the same time as this was going on the German government finally made official what had been partly leaked since April- a commitment to substantially increase aid, mainly to Africa, over the four years 2008-2011, by 750 million euro ($1 billion) a year. This is just less than half of what they need to do to meet their Gleneagles commitments, but nevertheless it remains substantially more than they have increased in recent years. It is also higher than the earlier leaked amounts, showing that the German government has definitely felt the pressure to do more in recent weeks. It will mean they will reach an ODA level of around 0.39% of GNI by 2010, instead of the promised level of 0.51%. The Germans also proposed supplementing this amount from a tax on carbon credits, which they say could raise nearly 500 million euro. Oxfam welcomed the announced increase, and the challenge it lays down to the other G8 members- particularly France and Italy, whilst criticising it for not being enough. We added that any money raised by a tax on carbon, whilst welcome, should not be counted towards the UN target of 0.7% but should be additional to that goal.
It remains to be seen what impact these two sets of announcements will have on the other members of the G8 in the final days, and how they will impact on the emergency meetings of officials scheduled for early next week.
On the campaigning side, today saw the biggest tabloid in Germany, the Bild Zeitung, guest edited by Bob Geldof, including an interview with Angela Merkel, and a smorgasbord of German and international celebrities writing about Africa, and with pictures of the Global Campaign for Education stunt at the Brandenburg gate yesterday. The rally in Rostock tomorrow starts at 11, with many photo stunts planned in and around it, and upwards of 100,000 people attending. Oxfams G8 Big Heads will make their first appearance, including the brand new Sarkozy, with the leaders arranged around a gambling table, busy betting piles of cash on roulette whilst Africa is ignored.