Leaders Set Mix Of Goals

Leaders of eight of the world’s largest economies endorsed several goals on energy and greenhouse gas emissions at their 18-19 May summit at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. The heads of state from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. also established an investment program for food security and nutrition in Africa during their meeting, which was otherwise focused on economic issues. The Group of Eight, or G-8, leaders committed to establishing and sharing best practices for energy production, including hydraulic fracturing and deepwater drilling. In light of last year’s disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, they backed initiatives for comprehensive assessments of risk and safety at existing nuclear installations. In addition, they endorsed the phaseout of “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption” and called for universal access to clean, safe, and affordable energy. In addition, the G-8 representatives agreed to advance the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment. According to a statement from the White House, this means the G-8 countries will recognise each others’ tests for energy efficiency of consumer goods, if the procedures are comparable. Such a move would allow manufacturers to test their products once and then sell them internationally. On the issue of climate change, the other G-8 countries agreed to join the U.S. and Canada in an international effort to reduce emissions of short-lived pollutants that contribute to global warming. In February, the U.S. kicked off this initiative, which is aimed at curbing releases of methane, black carbon, and hydrofluoro­carbons. The leaders pledged to continue efforts to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases and to support international negotiations for a new climate-change treaty that will apply to both industrialised and developing countries. To improve food security and nutrition in developing countries in Africa, the G-8 launched an alliance to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture. The private investments would be directed to spreading crop technologies that increase sustainable production, with the hopes of lifting some 50 million people out of poverty. In tandem with the Camp David gathering, crop protection firms Syngenta, Monsanto, and DuPont announced planned business investments in Africa. Syngenta identified Africa as a major growth region for the firm, saying it plans to invest $500 million in the next decade to increase access in Africa to new farming technologies. To help the effort, Syngenta says it plans to hire more than 700 agricultural specialists. Both Syngenta and DuPont say that selling seed traits and crop protection products in Africa could be a $1 billion-per-year business within the next 10 years. To enhance food security in Ethiopia, DuPont will invest $5 million to work with the country’s government and small landholders to increase the yield of nutritious food and expand seed production. Furthermore, DuPont is sponsoring a global food security index to measure the drivers of food security across 105 countries. The data tool would be made available to governments, universities, and organisations to help tailor local solutions for food security. For its part, Monsanto says it will commit $50 million over 10 years to collaborate with farmers and governments to increase farm productivity and crop values. Part of the program will expand ongoing work in Tanzania and includes developing new corn hybrids that use water efficiently.

Chemical & Engineering News, 25 May 2012 ;http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news ;