G8: hope for Africa but gloom over climate
Posted: 9 July 2005
Author: Ewen MacAskill, Patrick Wintour and Larry Elliott
The world's wealthiest countries yesterday signed the biggest aid deal in history for Africa, a package Tony Blair said he hoped would "lift the shadow of terrorism".
He contrasted the success of conventional politics at Gleneagles with the actions of terrorists who wanted to spread darkness.
In their final communique, the G8 agreed to:
- Double development aid to $48bn (Â£28bn) by 2010.
- Write off debt initially for 18 African countries.
- Provide "as close as possible" universal access to treatment for HIV/Aids; tackle malaria, TB and polio; education; and train a further 20,000 peacekeeping troops.
- Open dialogue between the G8 and emerging countries on climate change, with the first meeting in London in November, but no targets for cutting carbon emissions.
- Provide $3bn a year for the next three years for the Palestinian Authority to help build up institutions.
- Establish a "credible end date" for a trade agreement to eliminate export subsidies.
Mr Blair, who returned to Gleneagles late on Thursday after his dash to London, said the agreement had "a pride and a hope and a humanity at its heart that can lift the shadow of terrorism and light the way to a better future".
He said the deal was not "the end of poverty in Africa", but it offered hope that it could be ended. G8 diplomats said the London bombings had created a sense of purpose among the leaders and helped them finalise last-minute negotiations on aid, particularly with the Japanese and Germans.
Mr Blair expressed irritation with aid agencies and environmentalists who criticised the deal, dismissing some of them as people who did not like to get their hands dirty.
Bob Geldof, a leader of the Make Poverty History campaign and organiser of the Live 8 concerts, fell out with fellow campaigners for carping about the deal and described it as a great day for millions in Africa. He called their criticism of the G8 agreement "a disgrace", and said the plan to double aid to Africa by 2010 and the promise to relieve debt was welcome. "On aid: 10 out of 10; on debt: eight out of 10."
He also praised "a serious and excellent result on trade".
"Time will tell if this is a historic summit," Geldof said. "What is true is that people have forced a change of policy on to the global agenda and today that policy has been forcefully addressed."
His colleague, Bono of U2, who sang at the Live 8 concert, also welcomed the deal: "The world spoke and the politicians listened." He praised Mr Bush for "moving so far so quickly", and pointed out he was taking the lead on Aids and malaria.
The G8 - Britain, the US, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia - were joined by leaders from Africa, China and India. At a press conference to mark the summit's end, Mr Blair said he had not achieved everything he wanted but they had made "substantial progress", and the Africa package would take millions out of poverty.
"Politics is about getting things done step by step, progress by progress," he said. "This is big progress, and we should be proud of it."
Campaigners described the aid increase as welcome but said it fell far short of the hopes of millions of people who had backed the Make Poverty History campaign and attended the Live 8 rock concerts around the world to put pressure on the G8.
Environmentalists said the summit had failed to make any progress on climate change and blamed Mr Bush for blocking action by the other leaders. The president of the Royal Society, Lord May, labelled the communique on climate change a "disappointing failure".
He said: "Make no mistake, the science already justifies reversing - not merely slowing - the global growth of greenhouse gas emissions."
But the environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, said it was "absolute rubbish" to claim the G8 summit had not signed up to anything new.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian president and president of the 53-member African Union, described the summit a "a great success". Mr Obasanjo is also a member of the Commission of Africa, which was set up by Mr Blair to provide recommendations to help the continent. No 10 said the summit had agreed to 50 of its proposals.
Gleneagles: key documents
- Goodbye to Planet 21
- Voices from Planet 21
- COMMENTARY: The case for family planning that Rio+20 forgot
- Women at Rio+20: disappointed and outraged
- Rio+20 Earth Summit: campaigners decry final document
- Zero Ten Twenty - The Children of Rio
- Rio+20 Earth summit talks turn into rubber-stamp job
- COMMENTARY: Creating a green growth guarantee for the Rio Earth Summit
- Vast rewards of education for girls and boys - everywhere
- Scottish eco-schools lead the way
- How to trigger greener, smarter growth - while fighting poverty
- COMMENTARY: Tipping points on the road to disaster
- People and the planet 'shortchanged' at G20
- 'Global green economy can save the planet'
- POZNAN COMMENTARY: Rhetoric and reality at climate talks