Home .Governing globalization And now a G13 -- G Wizz
And now a G13 -- G Wizz
Friday, 12 September 2008 11:06

The virtual formation of a "G 13" at the 2008 G8 summit in Hokkaido Japan could be an effective step towards tackling global challenges.  But it could also be dynamite !

The G8 started as a fireside chat in 1975 as French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing convened the US, Japan, Germany, UK and Italy to discuss the challenges of the first oil shock.  Canada joined in the next year to make G7, and then Russia was accepted in 1997 in the eurphoria of the early post Cold War era.

The G7 started as a group of countries trying to rule the world -- they did represent the economic and political power of the free world.  It quickly became however a media circus and a group of broke promises.  Witness the repeated calls to bring the Doha trade talks to a successful conclusion.  Then there were the promises made at the 2005 G8 Gleneagles'  summit to double aid to Africa by 2010. 

At the 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm Germany, the G5 of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Soth Africa were invited to attend parts of the meeting.  And Angel Merkel created the Heiligendamm process of dialogue on issues like investment, IPR, energy between the G8 and the G5.  Bringing the G5 into the G8 process was long overdue in light of the big shift in the global balanace of power.  Today emerging economies have about the same weight in world GDP as the developed economies, and by 2025 the emerging economies could represent almost twice the share of developed countries.

And so this year in Hokkaido, the G5 were again invited to parts of the G8 meeting and held their own meeting.  French President Sarkozy and some other others already started calling for a G13 or even a G16 -- a call resisted by some others like Japan.

This year's meeting may have shown the shape of things to come.  As world leaders struggle to agree on a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012, the G5, led by China and India, refused to sign on to the G8 pledged 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.  The G5 even called on the rich countries to cut their carbon emissions by 80-95%.  They obviously argue that the buildup of greenhouse gases is the result of two centuries of economic development by the West, whereas emerging economies have only been developing rapidly for two or three decades.

The expansion of the G8 to the G13 is important in terms of sharing responsibilities for managing the world.  But, it will also push the G8 countries to face up to their own responsibilities, something that they are way short of doing.  The second half of the 20th century was marked by a cold war.  The risk is that the coming decades will be dominated by the G8 and the G5 being at constant loggerheads.  The leading world's rich countries will require much greater political will and leadership than they have shown to date to prevent a new major split in the world.

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