G8 Summit: Avoidance of Discussions about the Environment

The 39th G8 summit is being held in the United Kingdom today and tomorrow.

G8 Summit to be held in UKRepresenting approximately 15 percent of the world’s population, 65 percent of the global gross domestic product and two thirds of international trade, the G8 is an informal group of advanced economies that meets once a year at a Summit of Heads of State and Government. Member nations, which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, have convened to discuss a wide array of topics but for this year, it was reported that the UK’s lead G8 negotiator rejected moves from Germany and France to make climate change a key talking point.

It’s not disputable that discussing economic difficulties in developed and developing countries and violent conflicts that demand the attention of the international community are crucial issues but given the combined power of the aforementioned advanced nations and, equally important, their own contributions to the growing climate change problem in the form of industrial waste, shouldn’t the environment also be a top priority? If ninety-eight out of 100 climate scientists agree that climate change is real and that human activity is contributing to it, and that it poses significant risks to our global environment and our health, why doesn’t it warrant a place on the agenda?

In prior years, the agenda included topics similar to those being covered this year: free trade, economic development and Middle East peace. It is expected that that Syria and the Assad regime will also take a key spot in discussions given the recent news that nerve gas was used in that country though the issue is still being investigated. European leaders will also discuss United States’ NSA surveillance efforts in light of the revelations about the international reach and impact.

All of these are important topics but, in the past, global leaders also saw the importance of  recognising that the development of and access to sustainable, affordable and safe sources of renewable energy is essential to global economic growth and to the world’s efforts to address climate change.

If it won’t be addressed on a global level at least national and local action can take place.

What global leaders refuse to discuss will be talked about on local levels. For example, today there will be movement against hydrofracking at least on a state level. One such example is taking place in New York State at an event called “New York Crossroads” that is hoped by event organisers to be a ‘catalyst for change and a model for energy planning’ in states across the nation. At a rally that will be held at the state’s capital, people from all walks of life will do what global leaders will not: come together to stop fracking and say yes to renewable energy.

We have all seen the destruction caused by massive oil spills, chemical leaks and gas in the water supply. The road to fracking and fossil fuels is a dead end. In embracing renewable energy and rejecting fracking, states will show that the health and safety of their people comes first.

We’ve seen in the last 100 years that significant changes in the climate have grown much worse — and much faster — than what we’ve seen in any time period before. If a global summit isn’t the place or the time to address the issue, when is?