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From Okinawa 2000 to Genoa 2001

Issue Performance Assessment
Environment

Overall Grade: B+

Objective: Climate Change
Grade: A-

Following the US abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol, the G8 countries placed climate change as a top priority for discussions in Genoa. As the Summit approached, however, many predicted that little would be resolved in Genoa given the sharp dichotomy within the G8. Despite this pessimism, each member remained committed to discussing the issue and conveying their respective position.

In Genoa, the G8 leaders stated that they felt that significant progress had been made in their discussions. This, however, was not entirely evident upon initial examination of the Genoa Communiqué. It seemed that the G8 countries had merely acknowledged the obvious: that they were committed to the same objective but disagreed on the method. However, as COP6 discussions concluded in Bonn later that day, the impact of the G8 Genoa Summit soon became apparent. Against all odds, 178 countries finally reached a compromised agreement to rescue the Kyoto Protocol. It is interesting that this consensus was largely the product of the give and take of Japan, Canada and the EU. Canada and Japan achieved increased credit for carbon sinks and in exchange the EU was able to ensure greater penalties for countries that do not meet their targets. This compromise was no doubt a result in part of the high level political discussions in Genoa. These talks allowed the top decision makers to clarify their own positions and see the merits of others.

This positive outcome has paved the way for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by all G8 members except the United States. Despite the lack of participation of the US, the G8 agreed in Genoa to continue to work together particularly in climate-related science and research as well as technology transfer to developing countries. The United States has also agreed to continue discussions through the UN framework. It plans to present its made-in-America climate change action plan at COP7 in Marrakech this fall. This and the commitment of Russia to host a global conference on climate change in 2003 has ensured continued efforts among the G8 to work with all countries to address this issue, even those who do not ratify the Protocol.

Objective: World Summit on Sustainable Development
Grade: B+

In addition to the progress made on climate change, the G8 also discussed the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development. The leaders highlighted 3 dimensions of sustainable development, "enhancing economic growth, promoting human and social development and protecting the environment". The G8 members agreed to work with developing countries for an inclusive agenda for Johannesburg in 2002. These commitments reaffirm the discussions of the Environment Ministers in Trieste earlier this year, which was one of the pre-Summit environment objectives.

Another area of success was the agreement to work towards the development of high environment standards for Export Credit Agencies (ECAs). In the Genoa Communiqué, the G8 leaders committed to "reach an agreement in the OECD by the end of the year on a Recommendation that fulfills the Okinawa mandate"

There was, however, no mention of accountable environmental governance in the international community, particularly the inclusion of environmental considerations for the upcoming trade negotiations in Qatar.

Objective: Environment & Health
Grade: B-

Environment & Health was not highlighted in the Genoa Communiqué but there were references to this issue in the food safety commitments. The leaders committed to "continue to support a transparent, scientific and rules based approach and will intensify our efforts to achieve a greater global consensus on how precaution should be applied to food safety in circumstances where available scientific information is incomplete or contradictory". The leaders also agreed to promote dialogue on this issue between governments, consumers, scientists, regulators and stakeholders in civil society. These two commitments followed up on agreed principles in the Environment Ministers Statement in Trieste.

Despite discussions on food safety, the Genoa Communiqué neglected to address sustainable cities; environmental health protection for vulnerable minorities such as children; the elderly and indigenous people; as well as air and water pollution. These were all pre-summit objectives for environment discussions.

Prepared by: Bryn Gray, Marilena Liguori and Lara Mancini of the G8 Research Group.

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