G8 Leaders focus on the tip of the iceberg… but the titanic mass beneath remained hidden

There has been much dismay and dialogue on the lack of green discussion during the Leaders’ Summit of this year’s G8 despite the statement released after proceedings ended, and despite the commitment of governments to openly publish environmental data.

Issues surrounding climate change have historically formed the focus of the leadership summits, but this year the environment was side-lined and as stated by Greenpeace ‘climate change was conspicuously absent’ in the agenda.

As arguably the largest global problem requiring the international attention of world leaders; its omission from the consultation process has been met with discontent from businesses, NGOs and other organisations.

The only mention of the environment during the proceedings was in relation to the Open Data Charter, where represented countries pledged to transparently report on environmental metrics – an important step, but one that is only the tip of the iceberg.

The wider strategy of how climate change should be tackled on an international governance level was not discussed. Although it was put in the closing statement released post-event, it suggests that David Cameron who pledged to run the ‘greenest government’ to date has drifted slightly on this commitment.

Richard Gladhill, Head of Climate Change and Carbon Market Services at PwC commented “Though climate change didn’t make it to the main agenda in Lough Erne, eclipsed by negotiations on Syria and on taxes, the G8 Communique issued at the conclusion of the summit includes a shopping list of important actions and pledges, as well as a sobering report card on the international negotiations… essentially: must try harder.”

Many feel that the G8 should be the place for leaders to clearly analyse the effectiveness of existing policies and commitments and determine where funds should be directed next for maximum efficiency. With discussions already taking place in Europe about new carbon reductions targets for 2030, even a brief discussion at a more global level would have been welcomed by critics to set the tone for the UN climate summit of 2015.

The discussion around transparency and extractive industries could have been a base point for a more in depth discussion surrounding the environment which was merely alluded to. The issues of environment, transparency and conflict minerals from extractive industries are all very much interlinked, and needed to be treated as so to find innovative solutions and drive development world-wide.

Laura Taylor, head of public policy at Tearfund said: “. It’s about time we saw global mandatory reporting for oil, gas and mining industries, for example, which is what point 5 seems to suggest but so far Japan and Russia haven’t committed to that. If this is their way of announcing that they’ll do it, it’s been a superb G8. If not, we’ve still got a long way to go.”



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