G8 risk going into reverse on aid, warns Oxfam on eve of summit

Published: 5 June 2007

It is scandalous that on the eve of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, G8 countries cannot even agree whether they will keep their 2005 aid promises, said international agency Oxfam today.

G8 countries are "running to stand still" said Max Lawson, Senior Policy Advisor at Oxfam, as last minute talks between officials ended inconclusively, with some countries reluctant even to reiterate past aid promises on the eve of the summit.

Lawson: "G8 officials have today been involved in feverish negotiation over the final texts but have failed to agree. Italy, Canada and Japan are leading the scramble for reverse gear, refusing even to reiterate promises to increase aid that they made in 2005 – mainly because they have been busy breaking those promises ever since."

"The extra aid that was promised at the G8 summit in Gleneagles two years ago could put millions of kids into school, employ nurses, doctors and teachers, buy medicines for people with AIDS – literally save lives. But collectively, the G8 looks set to fall short of their pledge by a massive $30bn. If they do not get back on track, 5 million extra people will die by 2010. This is about a lot more than numbers on a piece of paper".

Climate change is the other issue that remains controversial ahead of the official summit start on Wednesday, with Germany pushing for consensus on a global stabilization target and proposals for multilateral negotiations on a post-2012 framework. The first phase of the Kyoto protocol runs from 2008-2012.

Lawson: "Over the last few days we have seen a plethora of new initiatives on climate change, led by former leading naysayers, but we don't need a new process or approach. There is already a process in place at the UN that countries should follow, and the G8 should support, so that they can come up with a global solution to global problem.

"We are already seeing poor people in developing countries suffering the effects of climate change. They can't wait for the results of a beauty parade of different country initiatives. They need the G8 to provide money now to help them adapt to climate change, while at the same time agreeing on measures to cut emissions and limit global warming to as far below 2 degrees as possible".

Also over the weekend, violent protests attracted the attention of G8 watchers and the media. Unfortunately, peaceful campaigning was overshadowed by violence and injury.

Lawson: "This summit must not be remembered for broken promises and burning cars.  There is huge potential here and a huge chance for the world richest and most powerful countries to live up to their responsibility to support development and poverty reduction in the developing world. Failure to act on this would be unforgivable."

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