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 user 2005-03-24 at 10:10:00 am Views: 48
  • #11020
    G8 Agrees Need for Action on Logging,

    England  – Environment and development ministers from the Group of Eight rich
    nations agreed on Friday on the need to act against the scourge of illegal
    logging and to help Africa survive global warming.

    But the two-day meeting, the first of its kind,
    committed the G8 members only to voluntary bilateral actions to end the
    multi-billion dollar trade in illegal timber.

    Environmental groups reacted angrily to the declaration,
    saying it was a “missed opportunity.”

    The meeting had never been expected to take any action
    on Africa, as this will be the task of the G8 summit in July. And U.S.
    opposition to any concerted action on tackling the illegal timber trade meant
    that agenda item, too, was never going to produce any concrete results.

    “What was most noticeable was the
    degree to which everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet — everyone
    understanding the links between dire poverty and environmental degradation,”
    British Environment Minister Margaret Beckett told reporters.

    But environmentalists saw the
    outcome differently.

    “From our point of view this is
    another missed opportunity. They know what needs to be done but just lack the
    political will,” Stephen Tindale, the head of Greenpeace in Britain, told

    Tony Juniper, head of Friends of
    the Earth, said: “This statement follows a long tradition of disappointments
    from the G8 over environmental policy. It is predictably short of details,” he


    Britain, as head of the G8 this
    year, had wanted the group to agree a series of tough measures including new
    trade laws to curb the illegal timber trade that is estimated to be worth $15
    billion a year — 40 percent of which enters G8 countries.

    But the United States, while
    agreeing there should be help given to the logging nations in Africa, Asia and
    Latin America to end the illegal side of the lucrative business, was adamant
    there should be no change to existing trade rules.

    In the end the meeting agreed
    that each would act according to their own circumstances under existing WTO
    rules to bring an end to the trade that is devastating rain forests in Africa,
    Asia and Latin America.

    The ministers met in a country
    hotel 120 miles north of London that was surrounded by a wall of steel and 2,000
    police to deter protesters.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair
    has put Africa and global warming at the top of the agenda for the G8 summit at
    the Gleneagles golf resort in Scotland in July, and most of this week’s meeting
    was in preparation for that.

    Central to the discussions on
    Thursday and Friday was Blair’s Africa Commission report published last week
    with ambitious plans to slash debts, make world trade fairer and give millions
    of dollars more in better directed aid.

    Acknowledging the report, the
    meeting agreed on the need for unspecified international action to combat
    climate change and mitigate its effects in Africa.

    The United States has dismissed
    calls for massive debt relief and British plans for a major new aid financing
    vehicle, which are the core of the Africa Commission report.

    The Anti-G8 movement, in a
    dry-run for Gleneagles, had offered a prize for anyone hitting a minister with a
    pie, planting a skull and cross-bone flag on the 18th hole of the hotel’s golf
    course or invading British environment minister Beckett’s room. In the end, no
    one even tried.