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Civil Society and Expanded Dialogue Unit

G8 and Africa | Civil Society | Climate Change | Expanded Dialogue

See also G8 Online 2005

Interview with
Ian Leggett
Executive Director, People and Planet

Janel Smith
Co-Director, Civil Society and Expanded Dialogue Unit, G8 Research Group
1 July 2005

People and Planet is the largest student network in Britain campaigning on the issues of alleviating world poverty, defending human rights, and protecting the environment. The organization consists of university and college groups as well as individual campaigners.

G8RG: Climate change and Africa are slated to top the agenda at the upcoming G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.  Even if the U.S. agreed to participate in the Kyoto protocol, do you believe Kyoto framework will be a sufficient plan of action to tackle climate change?  If not, what sort of plan of action would you propose to the G8?

Ian Leggett: No, we do not believe that Kyoto is a sufficient plan of action – but however imperfect and insufficient it is, Kyoto does provide the basis for international action and the rejection of it by the USA in particular is destructive. 

For the future there needs to be a much greater emphasis on achieving reductions through statute and regulation (for example on buildings) but also through the use of fiscal tools. For example, tax regimes should be adjusted so that highly damaging activities or industries paid more. The benefits of hypothecation should be looked at carefully. A new currency transaction tax should be introduced. Genuinely Green electricity generation should be encouraged and rewarded. 

There needs to be a much greater emphasis on the use of renewable and sustainable fuels – especially in those parts of the world where grid systems are costly or ineffective.

G8RG: What is your assessment of the G8 countries’ action on the WHO 3x5 goal that aimed to place 3 million people on anti-retroviral treatments by 2005?  Do you deem the 3x5 target to be a sufficient framework to tackle the global pandemic of HIV/AIDS?

Ian Leggett: We are disappointed – there has been some progress and the target of 3x5 may have helped to focus attention even though we are likely to fall woefully short of achieving it. It was only ever a short-term initiative – the UK at least has now put a long-term goal of universal access on the table but we will have to really keep the pressure on if significant progress is to be made. Otherwise it risks (and we think the risks are high) being yet another broken promise.

G8RG: What is your assessment of the debt cancellation proposal announced by G7 finance ministers on 11 June 2005?

Ian Leggett: Big step forward but they deserve little credit for agreeing to do something that should have been done much more quickly. Compare the speed and scale of the debt reduction for Iraq. And we remain sceptical about the use of conditionality to close off policy space and force through Washington Consensus-type policies instead of using conditionalities to direct expenditure to achievement of the MDG and EfA targets.

G8RG: Are there any other issues that you would urge the G8 to focus on?

Ian Leggett: Employment and Israel/Palestine.

The G8 Research Group would like to thank all the organizations and individuals
who participated in interviews.
The views expressed herein do not reflect the views of the G8 Research Group.

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