The event was overshadowed by yesterday’s terrorist attacks in London. But the eight heads of state still pressed ahead with their agenda of discussing measures for alleviating poverty in Africa and addressing global warming. The group pledged to increase aid to Africa by $50 billion, half of which goes specifically for African development.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced this and other measures at the close of the summit. "The $50 billion uplift in aid, the signal for a new deal on trade, the cancellation of the debts of the poorest nations, universal access to AIDS treatment, the commitment to a new peacekeeping force for Africa; the commitment in return by Africa's leaders to democracy and good governance and the rule of law -- all of this does not change the world tomorrow; it is a beginning, not an end," he said.
The G-8 summit was shortened so that Blair could return to London to deal with the crisis over the terrorist bombings in London yesterday.
The G-8 leaders met earlier in the day with the heads of government of Algeria, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa and with the head of the African Union to discuss measures to help develop Africa.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo thanked the G-8 for their attention. "Africa needs the undiverted attention and commitment of the G-8," he said. "We are pleased that our interlocutors have affirmed their resolve not to be diverted by these terrorist acts. We join them in that resolve.”
However, the summit concluded with less progress to announce regarding how to combat global warming. The final statement said, "Climate change is a serious long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe” and blamed the increasing use of fossil fuels such as gasoline and oil for the problem.
Blair said the group agreed on measures to stabilize greenhouse-gas emissions with an eye toward reducing them in the future. He also said his country would host a conference in November to establish a dialogue between industrialized and emerging nations on how best to manage global warming.
But the final declaration was reported to have been watered-down amid objections by U.S. President George W. Bush. Washington differs with Europe over how to combat global warming and has refused to sign the foremost international treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, for reducing industrial emissions thought to contribute to global warming.
Bush has said that Washington would not sign on to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions because it would have “wrecked” the U.S. economy. Every G-8 country except the United States has ratified the protocol.
Still, French President Jacques Chirac called the declaration at the end of this week’s summit a “partial victory” and said the U.S. position on global warning had “evolved.”
Environmentalists, however, are likely to complain that the declaration lacks specific targets or a timetable for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.