Africa: Oxfam On G7 Summit - Stronger Steer Needed On Energy Security, Climate Change and the Global Economy

press release

Energy security, climate change and the global economy were among the main topics the G7 leaders addressed during the Brussels summit, but Oxfam says what's needed is a stronger steer from leaders.

Energy security and climate change

Today G7 leaders backed the Rome G7 Energy Initiative adopted by their ministers last month, and stressed the urgency of reaching a global climate change deal at next year's UN climate talks in Paris.

Natalia Alonso, Head of Oxfam's EU Office, said: "G7 leaders missed turning the energy crisis with Russia into an opportunity to steer Europe and the world onto a clean energy path that will save Europe money and prevent the worst impacts of climate change at home and abroad.

"G7 leaders offered climate action with one hand, making good pledges on energy efficiency and renewables, only to snatch it away with the other, by continuing to trumpet indigenous hydrocarbon resources, which are expensive, unproven and dirty like shale gas.

"Europe's dependence on dirty energy is pushing up fuel prices and driving climate change, which means higher food prices in Europe and across the world. If leaders don't break their fossil fuel habit, poor people in Europe may be left to choose between eating and heating.

"Ahead of the Ban Ki-moon climate summit in September, Europe and the G7 should take bold steps to wean us off dirty fuels and promise cash for the new global Green Climate Fund to help the world's poorest countries tackle climate change."

Global economy: Wealth inequality and tax dodging

Regarding the global economy, G7 leaders did reaffirm their commitment to end financial secrecy and tax evasion, but they failed to say how they're going to take further action on wealth inequality, which can only block growth and job creation.

Alonso commented: "Today 85 people own as much wealth as half the world's population. At least US$18.5 trillion is hidden by wealthy individuals in tax havens worldwide representing a loss of more than $156 billion in tax revenue; money that could be invested in promoting equitable and sustainable growth and jobs.

"By not agreeing on next steps to end financial secrecy and tax evasion, G7 leaders have in effect shut their eyes to the growing problem of economic inequality. In response, Oxfam is calling for the Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme economic inequality by 2030."

Extractive industries

What G7 leaders agreed was an initiative aimed at supporting governments in developing countries to negotiate fairer and more sustainable natural resource deals with multinationals.

Oxfam's Natalia Alonso said: "Making all contracts between extractive industries and governments public should be a prerequisite for donors' assistance in negotiating deals.

"Affected communities should have a say in how - and whether - oil, gas and mining projects go forward, and their governments should harness the natural resource wealth of their countries to help all citizens to be lifted out of poverty."

New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

G7 leaders reiterated their support for the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched by the G8 in 2012, but they need to do more to help boost public sector investment in agriculture to meet the needs of small-scale food producers.

Alonso commented: "The 'New Alliance' requires major reform to prevent it from tipping policy reforms and company investments in favour of large-scale producers, at the expense of small-scale producers who are in greater need of support. The "New Alliance" must be more transparent and accountable."

Worldwide, around 500 million small farms support almost two billion people - nearly one-third of the global population. Public sector funding directed to meet the needs and priorities of small-scale food producers should remain a top priority as reliance on private sector investments alone will not benefit them.

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