And so the G-8 Summit draws to a close in Japan. This Group of Eight major nations somehow manages to exclude from membership both India and China, which between them account for more than a third of humanity, as well (in China’s case anyhow) as the up-and-coming industrial powerhouse of the world. It’s quite the exclusive club, this G8.
Great news then that they took the massive step forward of promising to “do something” about climate change at some future point, ideally between now and 2050. This takes the form of a ‘long term commitment to halving emissions by mid-century. This has been described as a ‘shared vision’ – as ambiguous a phrase as any you’re likely to hear from the lips of a politician.
But naturally there are far more pressing matters occupying the agendas of the Rich Club than climate collapse, species extinction and ecological chaos and the economic ruin it will visit on us all, yes, even including those same G8 countries whose leaders are so utterly indifferent to it.
One shouldn’t be churlish, however. Last year’s meeting was even worse; then they said they would “think about” setting limits on emissions, versus this year, in which they firmly resolved to kick the problem where it belongs – into the next generation, today’s children and teenagers. Who better to clean up the septic mess that our orgy of overconsumption is creating than our kids – brilliant!
That’ll serve those self-indulgent layabouts (OK, some are just laying about in their cots right now) and teach them a thing or two about a thing or two. We party all night, we thrash the joint, we empty the pension funds and THEY get to eke out some kind of existence in what’s left of the Earth. Wow, we G8 types really do hate kids!
“Never was more urgent action needed by the G-8 than this week,” said Jeremy Hobbs, of the advocacy group Oxfam. “The G-8 failed to rise to the challenge of a world in crisis.” Crisis, what crisis, Jeremy? Have you seen the menu? Hosting this shindig alone cost Japan around $500 million, including nearly $100 million spent building a stunning media centre.
Best of all was the delicious menu served up to the leaders and their spouses, including caviar, truffles and milk-fed lamb, all lovingly prepared by a team of chefs specially flown in to Hokkaido. It was all washed down with some darned fine vintage champagnes, sake and wines with mouth-watering price tags.
The meals stretched to 18 daintily prepared courses, designed to tempt, tease and toy with the palate. Meanwhile, out of view of Hokkaido, Oxfam unsportingly pointed out that another 100 million people have slipped this year alone into abject poverty and starvation as food prices soar.
As Marie Antoinette reputedly enjoined on being informed that the poor of Paris had no food: “Let them eat cake!”
The Japanese, embarrassed at having to pay the tab for this extravaganza, have been desperate to spin it as some kind of breakthrough. Tony Durham of AidAction International put it another way: “The cost of including the US in this agreement was pulling back from Bali. That’s not much of a deal”.
Last November’s hard-battled UN Climate Summit in Bali was obstructed every step of the way (as usual) by the US delegation, until even they were squirming so much with discomfort that they grudgingly went along with the ‘Bali roadmap’ (knowing they would have ample time once the media had moved on to once again cripple the process well ahead of the Copenhagen conference at the end of 2009).
We still have to endure another 196 days of this atrocious Bush regime before either John McCain or Barack Obama is sworn in next January. Time generally flies, but each of these days is going to feel like a month. As a small sample of the calibre of president the US will be waving farewell to, here’s what Mr Bush said during a speech in Dakar, Senegal this very day five years ago, in 2003:
“It’s very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left here to go to America, because of their steadfast (sic) and their religion and their belief in freedom helped change America”.
Freedom-loving slavery? No surprise really. What else would you expect from a peace-loving, planet-wrecking waterboarding warmonger? God help America, God save us all.