US and Australia branded by greens as 'axis of evil'

A A A

Campaign groups at the Johannesburg Earth Summit have branded the United States, Canada and Australia an "axis of evil" for their reluctance to co-operate with the rest of the world in tackling global poverty and environmental degradation.

As Washington opposed the setting of any targets beyond previously agreed UN goals such as halving the proportion of the world's people who live on less than a dollar a day or lack access to drinking water, Tony Juniper, the vice-president of Friends of Earth International, said other governments must press ahead on new agreements "for people and the planet".

British officials acknowledged that scant progress had been made so far by officials negotiating behind the scenes of this week's open plenary sessions, which began yesterday. "It has been slow, but that is to be expected at a summit of this size," one official said.

But FoE accused Britain of promoting weak voluntary agreements rather than binding regulations on business.

Mr Juniper called on Tony Blair – who is not due to arrive in Johannesburg until next week – to seize the political initiative. "This summit desperately needs political leadership if it isn't going to fail. Tony Blair must fly out here soon and work with other leaders to get these talks back on track."

Mr Juniper said the US, Australia and Canada had high standards of living, high rates of material consumption, and high per-capita impact on the environment. "They have been most unconstructive in recognising their impact as rich consumer countries," he added.

The US had withdrawn from the Kyoto treaty on climate change, while Australia and Japan had shown little interest in it, Mr Juniper said. The US decision to increase steel tariffs and introduce agricultural subsidiesexemplified its lack of commitment to free trade and helping poor countries.

Officials in the British delegation said that Britain still believed that setting targets on specific issues would help in reviewing progress. Britain was happy, they said, that the summit was recognising the roleof private-sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in partnerships to deal with environmental issues.

Britain has established pilot projects with governments, NGOs and the private sector in South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda to implement projects to improve access to clean water. The officials urged other developed countries to set up similar partnerships.

Meanwhile, a combined platform of NGOs highlighted the environmental issues "unaddresed" since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

"After 10 years of some progress in negotiations, but little actual implementation, the impact of these unfulfilled promises are becoming clear," they said. Flooding throughout central Europe, China and south Asia had caused thousands of deaths and billions of dollars' damage. Globalisation had made the "rich richer and the poor poorer", and chemically-intensive agriculture and biotechnology had "resulted in looming starvation, social dislocation and a threat to the entire world's food supply".

The World Bank yesterday urged world leaders to give priority to agriculture and to address the issue of subsidies. Its vice-president, Ian Johnson, said that growth in Africa depended on developing agriculture, and that subsidies in the North were a major obstacle to achieving this.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £24,000

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic individual is r...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?