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G8 Commentary: G8 + G5 = G13, Unlucky for All

Day two at the G8 and all's not going swimmingly. No, I'm not still going on about the logistics (I mean what's three hours to get to the venue between friends). No, I'm talking about the fact that with the major developing nations, the so-called G5 turning up, things are just not so cozy and glossy for Silvio and all.

Yesterday's 'historic' agreement on climate change from the G8 powers may have fooled some into thinking we were making real progress on one of the key topics, climate change, but with the arrival of the developing nations to the table the brakes are well and truly on. The march to a triumphant Copenhagen in December appears to have halted in the sun-baked Abruzzo hills.

Yes, the talk on Wednesday was of a massive 80 percent reduction in developed power carbon emissions by 2050 but where was the detail? Where was the money to pay for it? Where was the conclusive line in the sand as to which year we were going to start from as our measure from which to reduce? 1990, 1995, 2000? Your guess is as good as the G8 leaders', I think.

Anyway, let's be charitable for a moment. Let's say they will get it to work. Good, I'm pleased, or at least I will be as I celebrate my eightieth birthday in 2050 not having to row my boat across London to get to the shops to pick up a pint of milk.

And yet, as I mentioned at the top, the teensy weensy problem is that the G5, including the powerhouses of China, India and Brazil have said NO. Point-blankly, NO. They have said you, the G8, are the major emitters, you cut meaningfully and then you pay for us to cut and only then will we play ball.

This is a bit of a blow for the G8 spin-doctors, and, as I write, President Obama is hosting the Major Economies Forum, trying to bang heads together and get everyone back on track. However, with the Chinese Premier not even here that may be something of a challenge. Never fear, there will be a couple of further bites of the cherry later this year. Firstly the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, hosted by Obama himself, and then finally Copenhagen in December.

My guess is that money talks and that if, in true Jerry Maguire fashion, the G5 nations scream loudly enough SHOW ME THE MONEY, then a deal will get done and dingy sales in low-lying sea level areas will go down in relief. That said, where the money is going to come from is anyone's guess. I mean, it's not as if they got much left, or so it seems.

P.S. This doesn't really feel like a very green summit. Quite aside from all the petrol we're all using getting in and out of L´Aquila every day, each journalist has been given an info pack with two books inside. Total 330 pages for each one of the 3,500 hacks. That's around 1,115,500 pages of high quality A4 for the recycling bin. I'll leave it with you.

Contact Europe: Economy

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