26 June 2008
As you know, I leave on a two-week trip to Asia tomorrow morning, with stops in Japan, China, the Republic of Korea and then again to Japan to participate in the G-8 summit meeting in Hokkaido.
This year’s Group of 8 meeting in Hokkaido Toyako has taken on a special urgency. It is no exaggeration to say that we face three crises, all interrelated and demanding our immediate action.
The first and most pressing is the global food crisis.
The second is climate change, and the need to act now if we are to reach an agreement to limit greenhouse gases by the end of next year.
The third is the emergency of development, especially in Africa. We are falling behind on our Millennium Development Goals. If we are to deliver on this promised future, we must take steps today.
Before departing I will send a letter to each of the leaders of the G8 nations, laying out my concerns and requesting their leadership. As I say…if ever there were a time to act, together as one, it is now.
In Hokkaido, I will appeal to world leaders to deliver on the measures agreed to in Rome earlier this month under the UN’s Comprehensive Framework for Action. It offers a roadmap for ending the current food crisis and preventing a recurrence.
As you know, it calls on nations to remove export restrictions and levies on food commodities and reduce agricultural subsidies, particularly in developed countries.
I will also propose that we triple the proportion of Official Development Assistance for agricultural production and rural development. To overcome this crisis, we need nothing less than a second “green revolution.”
Climate change is no less immediate a concern. Floods throughout Asia and in the American Midwest. A third year of drought in Australia. Arctic melting, this year at an accelerated pace. Growing incidents of extreme weather around the world. Do we need more reminders about the urgency of global warming?
We achieved much in Bali last year. Now we must press forward in order to achieve the climate change agreement that the world expects and needs in Copenhagen in 2009.
In Hokkaido, I will ask for short- and medium-term targets for reducing greenhouse gases. It is not enough to talk of change by 2050. If we want real change, we must begin now—with targets for real progress by 2020.
We cannot hope for success in Copenhagen without concrete action in Poznan in December this year. To help the world’s must vulnerable nations to cope with climate change, we must have a fully funded and operational Adaptation Fund in place by the end of this year. We need to take the concrete steps to transfer the latest low-carbon “green” technologies to developing countries.
As I say, we need leadership on all these fronts.
Lastly, the Millennium Development Goals. The food crisis and climate change are slowing, and in some cases reversing, our progress. In Hokkaido we must deliver on our commitments. I will also seek increased funding for specific programs relating to infant and maternal health, community health projects and disease-control—HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Seldom has the global community been under such stress. The ties that bind us, as humankind, are fraying. We must work especially hard to preserve them, at this critical juncture, in the interests of our common future.
Thank you very much and I will be happy to answer your questions.