Leading article: A week in which our political leaders need to deliver

From the economy to climate change, now is the time for action

Share
Related Topics

The dominant themes of this week's G20 summit in London have been emerging for several weeks now. There is expected to be a consensus on new funds for the International Monetary Fund. An agreement on the need for tighter regulation of banks and other financial institutions is likely. The summit will also probably produce a commitment to resist national protectionism.

There remains, however, disagreement between the larger economies over the scale of the discretionary fiscal stimulus needed by the world economy. Expect some sort of fudge in the final summit communiqué, to prevent either side losing face.

Yet there will be more to this week's high-powered diplomatic wrangling than money. And we should beware the assumption that all that matters this week is the statement that will emerge from the G20 conclave, orchestrated by Gordon Brown in London's Docklands, on Thursday.

Several significant meetings will take place away from the main summit. President Barack Obama will hold his first face-to-face talks with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, in which the two leaders will discuss possible cuts in stockpiles of nuclear missiles and co-ordinated pressure on Iran not to develop such weapons.

The implications of President Obama's recent offer to "re-set" relations between America and Russia are significant.

If agreement can be reached between these two former Cold War giants on nuclear disarmament, the peace dividend for the world could be as valuable as co-ordinated action on boosting global economic demand.

The US President will also hold meetings with the leaders of those emerging economic powers, China and India, with a new treaty on curbing global carbon emissions on the agenda. This follows Mr Obama's announcement at the weekend of a meeting of "major economies" on climate change next month. This "environmental G20" is being presented as a diplomatic stepping stone on the road to the crucial United Nations summit in Copenhagen next December.

All this activity confirms that the new US President is serious about reaching a global deal on a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol. Again, the consequences of such a breakthrough on curbing carbon emissions would be just as far-reaching as anything agreed by world leaders on regulating hedge funds in London this week.

Some express a cynical view of international summits, accusing them of producing little more than platitudes and of failing to justify all the excitement. Certainly, many gatherings of world leaders over the years have been guilty of under -delivering. But this meeting promises to be different, not least because of the turbulent global environment in which it is taking place in. The world economy is in the midst of a synchronised financial crisis and economic downturn. Whatever agreement these global leaders produce will affect confidence in the financial markets.

And the sense of crisis and opportunity is strong in other areas too. The window of opportunity for governments to come together and take serious measures to curtail carbon emissions is fast closing. And serious efforts towards nuclear demilitarisation would appear to be in diplomatic play again for the first time since the break-up of the Soviet Union. The stakes are high, and true political leadership is urgently called for. We need to hope that this generation of politicians will rise to the formidable challenges of the moment and prove the cynics wrong.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home