As the G8 leaders jet into Germany to begin another barbed summit surrounded by thousands of feet of protective fencing (apparently costing 13 million euros!) and tens of thousands of angry protesters, Leila and I are frantically triple checking that our reports, leaflets and cameras are at the ready in time for our 7 o’clock eurostar.
Today is day three of a week of protest and debate in Rostock, the nearest accessible town to the summit, and we are on our way to make the World Development Movement’s presence felt.
The news coverage I have seen in the UK has been slim so far but it seems to have been dominated by the activities of some violent activists and Blair and Merkel statements that the summit will be critical for Africa and climate change.
On the former I have heard from activists on the ground who are saying that the demonstrations have so far been peaceful with a diverse group of people taking part, including many children. The violence so far has been undertaken by a small minority.
On the G8 summit itself, I don’t believe it will deliver for the 1.1 billion living in extreme poverty. The language of a recently leaked draft communiqué is pro-business and anti-development. It’s pushing for investment deregulation, strengthening of intellectual property rights and the opening of markets. These sort of measures are more likely to lock millions into poverty.
Bush’s recent proposal on climate change to set up long term voluntary goals for countries to reduce global green house emissions is nothing but an attempt to distract from the existing UN negotiating process. The US also opposes any mention of the need to stop average global temperatures from increasing beyond 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.
This kind of horse-trading over the G8 ‘text’ is par for the course. And at the World Development Movement we have learned not to expect much from the G8 . The G8 is not accountable to anyone, it is a self selecting group and rarely delivers on the promises it makes. You only need to look at Gleneagles – the year of Make Poverty History -where expectations on debt, aid and trade were high. The promises made were disappointing – promises that in many cases have not been fulfilled .
With climate change dominating the agenda it would seem strangely perverse to fly to the event, though many decision makers inevitably will. In the UK, international aviation is the fastest growing source of emissions, yet even though these are increasing, and have a 2-4 times greater warming effect because they are emitted directly in the atmosphere, the government is refusing to include them in their own emission reduction targets.
We will be attending the alternative G8 summit in Germany– taking part in a number of workshops, demonstrations, protests and cultural activities, as part of the anti-corporate globalisation movement, we will speak out about the illegitimacy of the G8.
Tonight we will be catching the overnight train to Rostock from London, joining other activists who are making their way by land to the summit. On arriving in Rostock we will be setting up camp with other activists, before what I expect will be a busy few days.