G8: The final report card

Find out what marks Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher gives the G8 summit on the key issues.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev (L) shares a laugh with US President Barack Obama, L''Aquila, Italy

The next G8 is planned for Canada in 2010 – and may be the last one [AFP]

And so the summer’s come and they’ve broken up, heading off with promises made and friendships to be nurtured and sustained. 

But what did the G8 really achieve?

After three days of talks and negotiations, it’s time to give the group its final report on the issues that matter.

Climate change:

The G8 made some significant announcements about restricting the rise in global temperatures to just two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels and made a commitment to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

In depth

Al Jazeera’s coverage of the G8 summit

One environmentalist described this to me as being “long term commitments by short term politicians”.

There was, however, no roadmap on how the group hits it targets.

It also failed to convince the emerging economies to sign up to a 50 percent cut in the same time scale.

The establishment of a Carbon Capture Institute did little to excite the Green lobby who think that technology is unproven and won’t be operational until 2030 at the earliest which they say is too late.

Verdict:  Must make efforts to get on with others 5/10

Global financial crisis:

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister and the host of the summit, said in his final news conference that the crisis was beginning to “peter out”, which perhaps will come as a surprise to many.

He also said that it would only continue, or deepen, if people remained too frightened to spend.

There are those in the G8 who are worried about governments continuing to pour billions of dollars into the economy.

The Germans in particular would like to cut back but the US, France and the UK think it’s still too early and recovery could be held back if funds were choked off now.

The emerging nations also reminded the big eight not to protect their own economies at the cost of hitting global trade.

Verdict:  Nothing really new.  Steady as she goes.  6/10

Global trade:

Talks aimed at making global trade easier, which began in 2001, have stalled.

The so-called Doha round has been mired in disputes about tariffs and subsidies.

But the Americans are keen to make progress and believe a deal is achievable by 2010.

So there will be more talks later this year, to iron out problems, clarify issues and lay the groundwork for the leaders to sign a deal.

Food security:

This has been Barak Obama’s, the US president, pet project and he arrived in Italy determined to get a deal.

He put $4bn on the table and wanted other countries to follow suit. A total of $15bn was mentioned. In the end the G8 committed $20bn to the project.

Obama believes this will help poorer countries feed their own people and, in time, develop an agriculture sector which could boost trade.

Food prices have rocketed in the past six months and, as one charity worker told me in the three days of the G8, one million more people have been “trapped in the prison of hunger”.

That’s why it’s such an important issue for so many people around the world.

The G8 will be watched closely to ensure it keeps its promises.

Verdict: One of the few successes 9/10

The G8:

The member states used this summit to widen discussions with the emerging economies of India, South Africa, China, Mexico and Brazil – an acceptance perhaps that this 35-year-old organisation needs updating.

Berlusconi admitted as much in his final news conference, talking about a G14.

Verdict:  beginning to look tired. Needs fresh blood. 3/10

Normally outstanding issues have to wait to the next G8 meeting to be addressed.

But the group will be back together again for the G20 in the United States in September.

The next G8 is planned for Canada in 2010.

It might be the last one.

Source: Al Jazeera