The 31st G8 summit was held from July 6 to July 8 2005 at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross, in Scotland and hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The locations of previous G8 summits to have been hosted by the United Kingdom include: London (1977, 1984, 1991); and Birmingham (1998).
The G8 is an unofficial forum which brings together the heads of the richest industrialized countries: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada (since 1976), Russia (since 1998), the President of the European Commission (since 1981).
The G8 summits during the twenty-first century have also involved widespread parallel debates and protests by citizens.
Leaders of the major international organizations were invited to attend the summit.
As host, the UK stated its intent to focus this G8 meeting on the issues of global climate change and the lack of economic development in Africa. The British government set the priorities of supporting Africa's economic development (by agreeing to write off debts of the poorest countries, and to significantly increase aid) and of moving forward initiatives to research and combat global warming.
Prime Minister Blair had planned to move beyond the Kyoto Protocol by looking at how to include key developing countries (India, China, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa) not included in it - principally by agreeing technology transfer of clean energy technologies in exchange for commitments on reduction of greenhouse gases. Other announced items on the agenda were counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and reform in the Middle East. The summit was overshadowed, however, by bomb attacks in London on the second day of the conference.
While negotiations have essentially taken place between the G8 member states, some of which are reluctant to endorse debt cancellation and aid increases, African governments, advocacy organizations and their allies have criticised the Blair-Brown plan as inadequate and argued that the continuation of structural adjustment policies outweighs the benefits of debt cancellation, while also pointing out that only a small proportion of the Third World debt will be affected by the proposal. In mid-July, objections by Belgium raised the possibility of the debt relief bill not being approved by the International Monetary Fund, a development that was harshly criticized by many activists.
Agreement was not reached on Brown's proposed International Finance Facility, partly because the United States said that its budget procedures meant it was unable to make the necessary long-term funding commitments.
On July 6th, U. S. President Bush recognised "that the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases is contributing to the problem". However, he said the Kyoto treaty was not the answer. Environment campaigners called the result of the summit "a very disappointing finale". "The G8 have delivered nothing new here and the text conveys no sense of the scale or urgency of the challenge. The action plan, without any targets or timetables, will deliver very little to reduce emissions, or to roll out renewables to the scale required", said a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth.
The U.S. also pulled out of financial pledges to fund a network of regional climate centers throughout Africa which were designed to monitor the unfolding impact of global warming. Other schemes opposed by the U.S. include the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) set up to help developing states develop economically while controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
To address claims that flying so many people around the world to talk about global warming actually contributes substantially to it, the entire G8 Presidency was designed to be carbon neutral, with calculated resulting carbon emissions being offset by purchasing Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) from a Clean Development Mechanism project. The Kuyasa low-income housing energy upgrade project located in Cape Town, South Africa, was chosen. The first CDM project to be registered in Africa, it involves the installation of solar water heaters, ceiling insulation and low-energy light-bulbs in hundreds of low-income homes in Khayelitsha township.
As with all recent G8 summits, the meeting is the focus of many advocacy campaigns, including the Make Poverty History campaign in the United Kingdom, and the anti-globalization (a term not usually used by its supporters) movement. More than 200,000 people marched in support of Make Poverty History in Edinburgh on 2 July, the largest demonstration in Scottish history.
In addition to the Make Poverty History coalition's efforts, singer/activist Bob Geldof organised concerts in each of the G8 member states on 2 July, as well as a concert in Edinburgh on 6 July. Unlike Live Aid 20 years prior, whose primary aim was to raise money, Live 8 aimed to increase awareness among the citizens of the G8 countries, and thus force their leaders into increasing their focus on world poverty - though in fact Live 8 raised 400 times more than Live Aid simply in terms of the debt deal which the Gleneagles summit delivered; if the deal on aid is honoured it will produce an amount the equivalent of five Live Aid concerts every week. The London concert featured acts ranging from Sting and The Who to Annie Lennox, and most notably the reformation of the classic Pink Floyd line-up.
Thousands also mobilized through the G8 Alternatives and Dissent! networks to protest the G8 and discuss alternatives to the economic and political models they represent. These mobilizations have taken a more critical line towards both economic globalization (which they reject entirely) and the G8 itself, which they generally regard as illegitimate and undemocratic.
Protest took a variety of forms:
The security operation, involving more than 10,000 police,many of whom were armed, possibly a number of US Marines, a Special Air Service (SAS) team and snipers,as well as the unprecedented intelligence gathering beforehand by the security service and American intelligence agencies is estimated to have cost around GB£100 million.
Police officers from all over Great Britain were called in to reinforce the local forces to maintain order in Edinburgh and other cities; even small protests were cordoned off by large numbers of police officers.
The protest legal support team estimates that at least 700 people were arrested and 350 charged. Targeted actions of London's forward intelligence teams (FIT) resulted in several of the arrests. Most people were released with strict bail conditions, having to leave the districts of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and/or Stirling or even Scotland all together. Several people were rearrested for breaching their bail conditions. Section 60, a law allowing searches for weapons in designated areas, was continuously used to stop and search people
The G8 summit is an international event which is observed and reported by news media, but the G8's continuing relevance after more than 30 years is somewhat unclear. More than one analyst suggests that a G-8 summit is not the place to flesh out the details of any difficult or controversial policy issue in the context of a three-day event. Rather, the meeting offers an opportunity to bring a range of complex and sometimes inter-related issues. The G8 summit brings leaders together "not so they can dream up quick fixes, but to talk and think about them together."
While many activists expressed disappointment that the agreements reached at the summit fell far short of their expectations, others noted that the 2005 summit was perhaps the most productive in the 30 year history of the G8. Some agreements were:
No agreement was reached to address global warming, largely due to U.S. opposition. The U.S. did agree to a joint communique stating that global warming exists and that human intervention may at least partially be at fault. While the U.S. had previously made such statements, this was the first time it had agreed to a multilateral announcement on the issue.
Breaking with historical practice, the British government had allowed non-governmental organizations to play a key role in deliberations, perhaps prompted by the public pressure of the Make Poverty History movement and Live 8. The summit continued the trend of including the developing world in talks. The leaders of seven African nations attended, as well as the five leading developing countries: China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa.
Closer investigation of many of the promises made at Gleneagles reveals that some of the aid funds were rehashed versions of aid already pledged and the aid was often used to privatise public services to businesses based in the donor country. However even three years on many G8 countries were backsliding on their aid quantity commitments.
The debt deal was not ‘full’ cancellation of debts at all but only cancellation of the debts for 40 potential countries (classed as the poorest countries), and even then only after completing the ‘Highly Indebted Poor Country’ (HIPC) initiative – that means changing their economic policies at the behest of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank - meaning more of the same economic conditionalities which were highlighted as problems by the Make Poverty History campaign. For example Tanzania was forced to privatise water (to a British company – Bi-water) which led to a worse service and higher prices. In practice, only 19 developing countries signed up to the HIPC initiative. Even then, only the debt to the public international financial institutions was cancelled (so [Indonesia’s arms debts][www.jubileescotland.org.uk], for example, were not covered). Even then the debts will only apply to a cut off date of 2003. This came despite the fact that the Commission for Africa report noted that in many cases the debt has in practice been paid back many times over, and that the debt was often accrued by illegitimate governments propped up by rich countries. The partial debt cancellation has done some good – Zambia for example is now able to provide universal free healthcare and Tanzania has increased its education spending. However debt campaigners argue that there is still far to go to reach the needed 100 per cent.
Although the 2005 G8 communique promised that developing countries should be able to decide their own economic policies, there has been little evidence of this in practice. For example the EU went on to attempt to push so called 'Economic Partnership Agreements' on developing countries, which Trade Justice campaigners argue will not be good for developing countries, and are being forced upon them against their will.
It was initially reported that the officer suffered only minor injuries and was taken to the hospital only as a precaution. However, the officer ended up needing crutches and missing three months of duty. On February 26, 2006, The Scotsman published a previously unreleased policy report which contradicted the administration's story:
John Scott, a human rights lawyer, said:"There's certainly enough in this account for a charge of careless driving. Anyone else would have been warned for dangerous driving. I have had clients who have been charged with assaulting a police officer for less than this.
Bush, who has experienced other bicycle- and Segway-related accidents, commented, "When you ride hard on a mountain bike, sometimes you fall, otherwise you're not riding hard.