Bush Heads for G8 With Malaria Relief, Nod to Climate Change
WASHINGTON, DC, July 1, 2005 (ENS) - President George W. Bush will arrive in Scotland next week for the annual meeting of the G8, the eight wealthiest nations in the world, bearing gifts of increased funding to fight malaria in Africa and a new recognition of global warming.
The summit July 6 to 8 is focused on the agenda set by G8 host British Prime Minister Tony Blair - lifting Africa's burden of poverty and curbing climate change.
"We know that the surface of the Earth is warmer, and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem," states a White House fact sheet prepared for the G8 Summit and issued Thursday. This statement represents a new recognition for the Bush administration, which in the past has questioned the reality of global warming.
Still, a draft of the G8 plan to address climate change leaked to the media two weeks ago did not acknowledge that the Earth is warming. Enclosed in square brackets, which mean that unanimous agreement has not been reached, was the statement, "[Our world is warming.]".
Outlining his G8 strategy in Washington on Thursday, the President pledged $1.2 billion over the next five years to battle malaria in Africa.
"Next week at the G8," he said, "I will urge developed countries and private foundations to join in a broad, aggressive campaign to cut the mortality rate for malaria across Africa in half."
Dr. Lee Jong-wook, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), immediately welcomed the new U.S. pledge. "This initiative provides a timely and substantial boost to the global effort against malaria," he said. "Malaria casts a terrible shadow across the African continent. It kills more than one million people every year, most of them children."
In addition to the cost in human lives, the yearly economic loss due to malaria worldwide is about $12 billion, accounting for a crippling 1.3 percent annual loss in GDP growth in African countries.
With the approval of Congress, the $1.2 billion will be used to prevent and treat malaria in targeted sub-Saharan African countries where the mosquito borne disease is endemic.
"An effort on this scale must be phased in, to avoid shortages of supplies," President Bush said. "Yet we intend this effort to eventually cover more than 175 million people in 15 or more nations. We want to reduce malaria mortality in target countries by half, and save hundreds of thousands of lives."
In 2006, the first year of spending, $30 million will launch the initiative in Tanzania, Uganda, and Angola to provide indoor spraying, long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, and effective new combination drugs to treat malaria, the President explained.
In 2007, $135 million is earmarked to expand work in those three countries and to launch the program in more countries.
In 2008, the spending will increase to $300 million to continue work in those countries already selected and to launch efforts in additional countries.
In 2009, another $300 million will be spent, and in 2010, funding will be increased to $500 million, with a goal of benefiting a total of 175 million people.
"In addition, the Gates Foundation of Seattle is supporting a major effort to control malaria in Zambia," said the President. "We've had a long tradition of public-private action. I'm grateful to have this strong partner in a good cause."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, committed $35 million to support malaria programs with other partners in Zambia.
Patty Stonesifer, co-chair and president of the foundation established by the Microsoft executive, said the fight against malaria can only be won by by combining forces and working together with the WHO, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and other donors and impacted nations.
"Malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa, with one child dying every 30 seconds," said Stonesifer. "These deaths are unnecessary and unacceptable, and it is a positive sign that the global community is finally recognizing this."
In addition, Marathon Oil Corporation with Noble Energy, Inc. and other partners have committed $8.3 million for Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, near a major offshore gas field, where a gas and chemicals industry is in development.
President Bush said Africa is "so much more than the sum of its problems," and the continent now stands "on the threshold of great advances" after years of colonization and Marxism and racism.
The President pledged other funding for education, to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic, to support peacekeeping in Sudan, and $55 million over three years to promote women's justice and empowerment in four African nations - a total of about $900 million each year for Africa.
Chad Dobson, Oxfam America's policy director, called the pledges "a welcome first step." Saying the President's announcement creates momentum that is needed as governments go into the G8 summit, Dobson called for still more spending to assist Africa.
"It is widely calculated that $25 billion is needed annually for Africa," he said, "so we hope the announcement today is just the beginning of a much bigger U.S. commitment to fighting poverty."
Debt cancellation for African countries is high on the G8 agenda. "With the leadership of Great Britain and the United States," Bush said, "the G8 countries are urging cancellation of $40 billion in debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest nations, including 14 nations in Africa."
For the first time, Bush linked environmental protection with the eradication of poverty in Africa.
"Overcoming extreme poverty goes hand-in-hand with improving the environment," he said. "Stagnant economies are one of the greatest environmental threats in our world. People who lack food and shelter and sanitation cannot be expected to preserve the environment at the expense of their own survival."
The President quoted the late Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi who spoke of "poverty and need as the greatest polluters."
"The long-term answer to environmental challenges," he said, "is the rapid, sustained economic progress of poor nations."
Bush said the best way to help nations develop while at the same time limiting pollution and improving public health is "to promote technologies for generating energy that are clean, affordable and secure."
He criticized those who suggest that "the best solution to environmental challenges and climate change is to oppose development and put the world on an energy diet."
"At this moment," Bush said, "about two billion people have no access to any form of modern energy. Blocking that access would condemn them to permanent poverty, disease, high infant mortality, polluted water and polluted air."
Bush said in the past three years the United States has helped developing countries adopt new energy sources, "from cleaner use of coal to hydrogen vehicles, to solar and wind power, to the production of clean-burning methane, to less-polluting power plants."
A fact sheet issued by the White House Thursday, said that among the principles guiding the administration at the G8 is the recognition that, "Climate change is a serious long-term issue, requiring sustained action over many generations by both developed and developing countries. Developing innovative technologies that are cleaner and more efficient is the key to addressing our climate challenge."
"We know that the surface of the Earth is warmer, and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem," the White House fact sheet states. "Though there have been past disagreements about the best way to address this issue, we are acting to help developing countries adopt new energy sources."
In the short term, both in the United States and elsewhere, these are: hybrid or clean diesel vehicles, clean coal, energy efficiency, a renewable fuels standard, nuclear plant relicensing, enhanced oil recovery, biological sequestration, the Methane to Markets program, the management of federal facilities for energy efficiency, fuel economy standards, wind and solar tax incentives, two voluntary federal climate programs, and a smart transportation program.
The medium term plan, covering the period from 2010 to 2020, adds advanced nuclear power, and geologic carbon sequestration.
The long term plan is based on hydrogen fuel, a low emissions coal powered generating technology, zero energy homes and buildings, bioenergy systems, and fourth generation nuclear fission and nuclear fusion power. The United States is one of six governments that have partnered to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor in France that is expected to generate electricity by mid-century.
Large corporations are "calling for urgent global action to combat climate change," said Travis Engen, the president and CEO of the multinational aluminum giant. Speaking June 9, Engen endorsed a package of recommendations from 23 corporations presented to Prime Minister Blair.
In January, Blair recruited a group of international business leaders to form the G8 Climate Change Roundtable at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Prime Minister asked the group to share with him their perspectives and expertise ahead of theG8 Summit.
The group identified a Framework for Action that will allow G8 governments and the private sector "to collectively force a change in the pace and scale of climate change mitigation," said Engen.
The action items include development of low carbon technologies and of a market-based framework extending to 2030, which is flexible, global in scope and sets clearly defined limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The business plan addresses climate change "as part of an overall sustainable development agenda."
The Group of Eight includes: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
View two new films prepared by the UK for the summit - one on Africa and the other on climate change. Click here to view.
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