G20 Wrap-up

Friday’s G20 summit was heralded as a great success by President Obama and other world leaders in attendance. During his radio address over the weekend, President Obama said:

In Pittsburgh, the world’s major economies agreed to continue our effort to spur global demand to put our people back to work. We committed ourselves to economic growth that is balanced and sustained— so that we avoid the booms and busts of the past. We reached an historic agreement to reform the global financial system—to promote responsibility and prevent abuse so that we never face a crisis like this again. And we reformed our international economic architecture, so that we can better coordinate our effort to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

 We also established American leadership in the global pursuit of the clean energy of the 21st century. I am proud that the G-20 nations agreed to phase out $300 billion worth of fossil fuel subsidies. This will increase our energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat the threat of climate change, and help create the new jobs and industries of the future.

Unfortunately anti-poverty and climate action groups bemoaned the fact that real action was deferred to sometime in the future, the Copenhagen Summit in the case of climate change (which begins in 72 days), and responsibility given to the International Financial Institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to support the world’s poorest. The full text of the G20 outcome statement is available here.

The UN Millennium Campaign issued a press release at the conclusion of the summit saying:

G-20 leaders have focused on issues such as bonuses and compensation and not on the needs of the 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day whose very lives are threatened by the economic crisis,” said Salil Shetty, Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign. “The G-20’s failure to address the needs of the world’s poorest is a worrying sign. Going forward it is critical that the G-20 focus its attention and resources on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

During the Secretary-General’s remarks to the G-20 Summit, he called for the developed world to deliver on promises of $50 billion in aid pledged at the last G20 meeting in London. “The picture it paints should alarm us all: The crisis is having a dramatic and potentially enduring effect on many of the world’s poor and most vulnerable people. They are far from seeing any of the so-called green shoots of recovery.