Its tough being a world leader. Imagine turning up at the G8 Summit in the midst of a one of the worst crises over food prices in many years and having to discuss the issue over an eight-course, 19-dish dinner prepared by 25 chefs.
Whilst agonizing over the poor, they had to endure amuse-bouche of corn stuffed with caviar, smoked salmon and sea urchin pain-surprise-style, hot onion tart and winter lily bulbs. All washed down with vintage wines.
After dinner, came the all-night climate negotiations, which must have taken some concentration, depending on whether you had had La Seule Gloire champagne; or the Ridge California Monte Bello 1997. But, undeterred, this morning the G8 Leaders announced their “breakthrough”, by saying they will adopt a goal of at least halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Some are claiming it as a great breakthrough, especially as last year the G8 only agreed to “seriously consider” a cut of 50% by 2050. The EU’s executive welcomed the deal saying it represented a “new, shared vision” and kept negotiations on track for a global deal in 2009.
Others disagree. The South Africa’s environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk rejected the deal. He said: “While the statement may appear as a movement forward, we are concerned that it may, in effect, be a regression from what is required to make a meaningful contribution to meeting the challenges of climate change.”
“At this rate, by 2050 the world will be cooked and the G8 leaders will be long forgotten,” said Antonio Hill, spokesperson for Oxfam International. “The G8’s endorsement of a tepid ’50 by 50′ climate goal leaves us with a 50/50 chance of a climate meltdown.” The environmental group WWF said the target date of 2050 was insufficient and the lack of progress “pathetic”.
And the chances of success remain remote. As the BBC noted, the main areas of concern at this summit are high oil prices and high food prices, and the world leaders had failed to come up with policies to address either.
Paradoxically the higher the oil prices the less people drive and fly so the more we help climate change. So maybe the politicians don’t have to do anything after all, apart from tuck into a nice 5 course breakfast…