Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

3.54 pm

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I would like to repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Statement is as follows:

“With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the G8 Summit, which took place between 6 and 8 June in Heiligendamm, in Germany. I pay tribute to Chancellor Merkel’s outstanding chairmanship.“The purpose of the summit was to take forward the agenda first established at the Gleneagles Summit of 2005 on climate change and Africa. “On climate change, the scale of the challenge, environmentally and politically, has been becoming clearer month by month. There is now a scientific consensus that the planet is warming dangerously. If we do not halt and then reverse the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, we face a potential catastrophe. Sir Nicholas Stern’s report has shown that early action will save money; late action will cost it. So, for the environment, this is urgent.“Politically, the problem has been clear but daunting. The United States was not part of the Kyoto treaty. The major emitters in the years to come will include China, India and developing nations. They want to grow their economies. They fear that action on climate change will limit their growth and hence keep their people—hundreds of millions of them—poor.“Added to all this, Kyoto barely stabilises emissions—it is now obvious that we need substantially to cut them—and it expires in 2012.“At Gleneagles, we set up the G8 plus 5 dialogue, the first time the US and China sat round the same table debating how to put a new deal together.“There is still a long way to go, but for the first time an outline agreement can be seen that meets the environmental test of cutting substantially the harmful emissions and the political test of bringing developed and developing nations, notably America and China, together.“We agreed at the G8, for the first time, that a new global climate change agreement should succeed the current Kyoto treaty.“We agreed, for the first time, that at the heart of that agreement should be a substantial cut in global emissions. And the summit sent an important signal that the global target should be of the order of a cut of at least 50 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the target set by the EU, Japan and Canada.“We agreed at the G8, for the first time, the process for such a new agreement. We agreed that the UN is the only body able to finalise a global deal on climate change and that a comprehensive agreement should be reached in 2009. We called on all countries to see the UN climate change meeting in December as a first step to achieving a comprehensive climate change agreement.“The most important change was the position of the United States of America. Again, for the first time, President Bush signalled that he wanted the US to be part of the new global agreement and would lead the attempt to get consensus among all the main countries, including China and India, so that that consensus could shape the final global deal. “This is crucial. There will be no effective climate change accord without the US. The US will not agree without China being part of it. Now we have an agreement in principle, a goal and a process to achieve it. Much remains to be done; but on any basis, this is a substantial step forward. “We agreed that tackling climate change and addressing energy security are complementary goals. We highlighted the importance of tackling energy efficiency, addressing emissions caused by deforestation and helping developing countries, which are likely to be worst hit by climate change, to adapt to its impacts. We agreed on a renewed effort to develop and deploy new low-carbon technologies, and we have sent a strong message that emissions trading schemes, within and between countries, will play a key role in giving incentives to business to invest in low-carbon technologies.“Heiligendamm was never going to be about finalising a deal; it was about sending a clear signal on the shape of the post-2012 climate change framework. That is exactly what it did. The UK will work hard in the G8, UN and elsewhere to deliver this objective of such fundamental importance to the future of the world. “Two years ago, the Gleneagles G8 agreed a global increase in aid and debt relief of $50 billion by 2010, with $25 billion extra for Africa. It also agreed universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, to tackling other killer diseases, a commitment to funding primary education, to supporting an African peacekeeping force and to a big debt write-off.“Britain is already meeting its commitment to increase aid to Africa. We have trebled it. Before the summit, Germany announced an extra €3 billion over four years, and America an extra $15 billion, for treating HIV/AIDS, over five years. Overall aid has risen. We should not ignore what already has been done or the almost $40 billion additional debt relief for Africa since 2005. But we will need to do substantially more to ensure that the Gleneagles provisions are kept. “However, on HIV/AIDS, the G8 reiterated its commitment to delivering universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010. Since Gleneagles, around 1 million people in Africa have been receiving the anti-retroviral drugs that they need; the G8 has now agreed to fund a total of 5 million. This is more than the G8 share of this commitment as predictions currently stand. But we can do more in years to come to fulfil the 2010 goal if the need arises. It committed to providing $60 billion over the next few years in Africa to help to achieve this. It committed to filling the estimated $6 billion to $8 billion shortfall in funding for the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, and, reflecting UK policy, committed to providing the long-term predictable funding necessary to achieve the fund’s goals. “The G8 also committed to taking specific steps to tackle the alarming feminisation of the AIDS epidemic whereby in sub-Saharan Africa 60 per cent of adults living with HIV/AIDS are women and three out of four young people living with HIV are women and girls. So the G8 committed to scaling up its efforts to deliver universal access to services to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to their children, to paediatric services and to maternal and child health services, at a total cost of nearly $5 billion. “On education, the G8 committed to working to meet the immediate $500 million financing gap for the education fast-track initiative. Again in line with broader UK policy, the G8 committed to help to provide long-term predictable funding to ensure that every child gets to school, and reiterated its commitment to ensure that no country that is seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in achieving its goal by a lack of resources. This will help to meet the millennium development goal of universal primary education by 2015.“The G8 also committed to identifying, agreeing and supporting lasting solutions to the financing of peacekeeping missions in Africa—essential if key missions, such as the African Union mission in Darfur, are not to limp on hand-to-mouth, month after month. “We agreed a strong statement on the crisis in Darfur. The truth is that President Bashir of Sudan has consistently refused to admit a hybrid UN-AU force and that he has consistently moved only under the threat of pressure from outside. Unless he now agrees to the G8 and UN demands, we are now committed to a new and tougher package of sanctions through the Security Council to force him to do so. “Our last session was dominated by discussion of the World Trade talks. The gap has now narrowed. There is the real possibility of agreeing an outline deal by the end of June. The outstanding elements amount to only a few percentage points either way. We are therefore closer to the headline numbers than ever before. But we have to move from wanting to do the deal to doing it. The meeting of the G4 between 19 and 23 June will be absolutely crucial. Britain will continue to do all we can—and we have done much over these past months—to bridge the gap. The benefits of an agreement for the wealthy nations, as well as the developing ones, are enormous. It would be good for business and jobs, good for the multilateral system and good for the world's poorest. I urge the US, the EU and the G20 to get this done. It will be great to succeed, a profound shame to fail.“As is usual at G8 summits, I also had bilateral meetings with a number of leaders and in particular a long and frank meeting with President Putin covering the range of issues presently under discussion: the Litvinenko case, Kosovo, ballistic missile defence and energy policy. I set out our view that people were becoming worried and fearful about the implications of present Russian policy. The president set out with equal frankness his views. “It was right to have such an exchange. The issues were aired with complete openness on both sides. I said to him that we wanted a good relationship with Russia. He affirmed his desire to see Russia/UK relations strong. But the truth is that these issues remain unresolved. “So this was a summit that made a real breakthrough on climate change and some more progress on Africa, and it showed once again the value to Britain of its transatlantic and European alliances. I commend the outcome to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.04 pm

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am immensely grateful to the noble Baroness for repeating this Statement. The summit opened, again, with scenes of organised violence and disruption, which is much to be regretted. Again, the active anti-global elements were extremely well organised.

As for the main issues under discussion at the summit, significant process on climate change has been claimed. It is interesting that the G8 appeared to look beyond the Kyoto treaty, which until now has been seen as the litmus test for commitment on this front. That must be a stimulus to renewed progress, not stagnation. It is worrying that no firm agreements were reached. However, did the noble Baroness note a reduction in CO2 emissions reported by the United States last year and the positive commitment made by the US Administration at this summit? A positive attitude is to be encouraged. Does she share my belief that this may well have resulted from the relationship between the Prime Minister and President Bush and that the Prime Minister should be congratulated? Clearly, the involvement of India and China is vital, but does she agree that the goal must now be a full successor to the Kyoto treaty, involving not only the US but also India and China and other future super-economies, with binding targets and real progress being made at the UN’s December conference in Indonesia?

I welcome another aspect of the communiqué; namely, that we must treat causes as well as symptoms and that much more needs to be done to develop energy-efficient technologies. I wonder how much the UK Government are investing here.

Furthermore, destruction of the world’s forests is responsible for a fifth of carbon emissions—even more than transport. Does the noble Baroness therefore share my disappointment that more was not achieved on that?

On AIDS and the fight against disease, is the noble Baroness surprised by the somewhat negative reaction to progress in an area where the Prime Minister has striven so hard? Is Oxfam right to estimate that the total annual increase in spending amounts to just $3 billion? If so, and if this is a largely recycled announcement, that might go some way to explain that reaction.

Britain has made substantial progress on overseas aid. I congratulate the Prime Minister and the noble Baroness on this. My right honourable friend David Cameron has today reiterated my party’s intention to increase spending on international development to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2013, but can the noble Baroness say what was done at the summit to ensure that all countries deliver what they pledge? There is a fear that, while all countries nod sagely at these summits, too many file the action points in the “pending” tray. Darfur is a tragic example. It is one of Africa’s two most pressing humanitarian crises. The G8 statement on Darfur covers important issues, such as an international force and the need for aid to get through. But what is this Government’s action programme to ensure that this really will lead to an end of the paralysis that we have seen so far, when the Khartoum Government seem utterly unwilling to co-operate with the international community in putting an end to the killing?

Africa’s other humanitarian tragedy is in Zimbabwe. The noble Baroness the Leader of the House will be far more familiar with the voluminous communiqués than I am, but can she explain why, yet again, there is no mention of the atrocious activities of the Mugabe regime in the progress report on the G8-Africa partnership or in the extensive summit declaration of growth and responsibility in Africa? In her speech on 24 May to the Bundestag, Chancellor Merkel had said that Zimbabwe would be dealt with but, in the end, there was nothing.

The Prime Minister has two more weeks in office. Later this week, he and Mr Brown will discuss the next EU summit, so will the noble Baroness dictate an urgent minute to those two men saying that this House demands an end to the international conspiracy of silence on Zimbabwe? Did the G8 discuss the scandal of one of Mugabe’s henchmen being awarded a major United Nations development post? The noble Baroness’s international credentials are well known but is she not ashamed of the lack of progress in the face of Mugabe’s intransigence?

On security, the situation in the Middle East remains chaotic and troubling. I sensed no new initiative emerging from this summit, but no doubt the noble Baroness can enlighten me if there was. Beyond the Middle East, we welcome measures on nuclear security and counter-terrorism and the strong language on Iran. Was Russia’s stance unequivocal on preventing Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb? Did the Prime Minister make any initiative on the question of the planned missile shield, which has caused tension between Russia and her G8 partners?

Before the summit there was a lot of grandstanding about tough talk with President Putin. While I agree that some of Russia’s recent actions are self-defeating and deserve a frank and robust response, does not the history of international relations suggest that public rhetoric followed by practical inaction is usually counter-productive? Can the Minister tell us one concession that Mr Putin made in the face of the Prime Minister’s public finger-wagging? The communiqué showed a sharp division on Kosovo. Where next? Is it the Government’s policy to push for early independence for Kosovo, or what?

The next G8 meets next July in Hokkaido under the flight path of North Korean ballistic missiles. Can the noble Baroness say what actions the British Government will be taking before then to help contain the nuclear ambitions of North Korea?

This summit was something of a swan-song for the Prime Minister. I am sure that the other G8 leaders will be sad to see him go—maybe they even had a whip-round for him. No one ever span a summit better than this Prime Minister; no one more readily confused rhetoric with achievement; but it would be churlish to let him depart without recognising the Prime Minister’s genuine concern in the fields covered by this summit, of global warming, AIDS and Africa, not least. It would be good to think that the outcomes were always as good as he and the noble Baroness tell us, but if progress was made, then in that the Prime Minister played a commendable part.

4.12 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we on these Benches also welcome the Statement. There is a vast collection of documents from the presidency and we could spend three days raising questions, but I promise the Minister that I will not do so. We welcome the now clear establishment of the fact that we are talking about G8 plus five—in particular, the engagement of China as an increasingly important actor in the international economy; it is also becoming an important actor in the world political system. My heart sank when I saw the sheer width of the section on growth and responsibility on the world economy. Some of it is remarkably thin despite the words in it. Since the origin of the G8 was very much to do with managing global financial flows and retaining stability in the international economy, can the Minister tell us what is happening with the Financial Stability Forum and its concerns with the sheer scale of financial flows that carry trade, the role of hedge funds, and so on, which is one of the biggest sources of instability in the global economy that we now have?

We on these Benches particularly welcome the progress on climate change, although we now recognise that the President of the United States is clearly behind opinion in the United States in his resistance to moving forward rapidly to deal with this immense problem. We are very happy that the European Union countries continue to provide a lead in this sector, and we trust that under the next Prime Minister, as well as under our present one, that collective lead will be sustained. We were disappointed that there was not more outcome on Doha and more pressure to make progress towards a successful completion of the Doha development round, but there was a great deal else on Africa, some of which is clearly a good step forward, but trade is a very important issue as well as aid.

I will leave Darfur and other questions for others on my Benches, who I hope will be able to add their comments. I want to ask in more detail about the robust exchanges with Russia, which we welcome. The Russians in the Kremlin are now particularly fond of talking robustly and sharply to their neighbours around the world, and it is quite correct that we should reply in the same terms. On Kosovo, we need to move towards a resolution of the situation that is not going to be its remaining part of Serbia. There seems to be some merit in President Sarkozy’s suggestion that we should delay this for a further six months—although it would have been helpful if he had informed his co-participants in advance, in accordance with France’s deep commitment to common foreign policy within the European Union.

The British Government have clearly been engaged in conversation with the Americans on missile defence for a considerable period. I was asking Questions in this House about the updating of Fylingdales radar in 2000 and 2001, so the British Government must be extremely well informed about what is behind American policy. Does the Minister think that the proposals by the Russians on this slightly artificial issue—the missiles are not yet ready or tested—represent some way forward without having an unnecessary confrontation on yet another issue between Russia and the West?

4.15 pm

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for his positive comments about the role that the Prime Minister played at the summit. On his point about the lack of firm agreements, particularly with respect to climate change, it was not the place for that kind of firm agreement because the serious negotiations will start in December under the UN umbrella in Bali. We all hope that those negotiations will be concluded some time in 2009 and that the ratification processes can go through the various countries, so that something is in place when Kyoto ends in 2012. The noble Lord is right about the importance of having China, in particular, around the table when we are talking about climate change.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, mentioned deforestation. He will know that the World Bank has a forest carbon partnership, and I am happy to write with more details about that. In the United Kingdom, we have an environment transformation fund that includes some elements that will be spent on the issue of deforestation. Again, I am very happy to write on that.

On HIV/AIDS, it is important that noble Lords remember that the commitment made at Gleneagles two years ago was for universal access to treatment by 2010, so this is work in progress. What was particularly important about this year’s summit was that it focused on implementation. I am very proud that the United Kingdom Government are meeting all our commitments, but we have to do more to put pressure on other G8 Governments who signed up to these commitments in 2005 and reiterated them in 2007. A process is now in place for annual reporting to G8 leaders that will help them to assess the progress being made against the commitments for 2010 and 2015.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, is right that we need to do more on Darfur. It is an issue for the global community, which is why the UN Security Council is engaged. A strong statement came out in which the G8 condemned the Government of Sudan’s bombings and rebel attacks in Darfur. It called on all sides to implement an immediate ceasefire and called for humanitarian access, commitment to a renewed political process in Darfur and a rapid transition to the AU/UN force. The statement said that if the Government of Sudan and the rebels continue to fail to meet those obligations, they will face action in the UN Security Council. Given that other members of the Security Council were around that table, that was particularly helpful. Noble Lords will know that not all permanent members of the Security Council are in the same place with respect to imposing sanctions.

Although Zimbabwe was not discussed at the G8 Summit itself, it was discussed by G8 Foreign Ministers at their meeting on 30 May. The chairman's summary of that meeting expresses G8 concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe and called for a constructive dialogue with the participation of all political forces to create the basis for reform and reconciliation.

The noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, asked me about defence and, in particular, ballistic missiles and the offer from Russia. President Putin's offer to include the radar in Azerbaijan in the developing ballistic missile system is an interesting and constructive proposal and one that should be considered further. Noble Lords will know that in a Statement on 7 June, the United States said:

As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in the Statement, he had a long and frank discussion with President Putin but the whole series of issues that they discussed remain unresolved.

The issue of North Korea needs to continue to be dealt with under the aegis of the international community.

The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, also asked me about Kosovo. There was a useful discussion among G8 heads, but there was no breakthrough. The intensive work by the UK and our partners continues, including in New York, on a draft resolution based on the Ahtisari proposals. On the proposal made by President Sarkozy, our priority is to bring the process through to successful completion and his proposals are a useful contribution to achieving that, but we have to consider that in much more detail. We will continue to work with our international partners to reach an acceptable solution to Kosovo’s final status.

I forgot to mention climate change. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, made a statement about the United States population being ahead of its President on that issue. We have seen the impact that the British population's interest in debt relief and aid to Africa has had in helping to keep the Government on track on our commitments. I very much hope that the fact that President Bush has made commitments to engage in the process between now and the end of Kyoto and the fact that the population of the United States takes the issue of climate change so seriously will mean that the United States can engage in a constructive way in those negotiations.

On the Financial Stability Forum, the noble Lord will know that those issues are discussed at the G8 Finance Ministers’ meeting, but if I can cast any further light on that, I am happy to write to him. I must confess that I have not read the vast collection of documents that came out of the G8 and I commend the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, for having managed to read at least some of them.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page