07.11.05 Sting in televised G8 Environmental Debate in UK...


Sting was one of Jonathan Dimbleby's guests on July 6 on the "G8 Debate: Making Poverty History" programme. He joined a panel that comprised of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, UK Chancellor Gordon Brown, President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Chris Martin from Coldplay. Elton John also contributed briefly on the issue of AIDS via a video message from the States.

The majority of the debate - which took the form of questions from members of the audience - concerned debt relief and making poverty history, and Sting joined the others on stage towards the end of the debate when the subject turned to the environment.

The following is a transcript of the debate from when Sting joined it and took part...

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Sting, at the Live 8 concert you changed the words of your song 'Every Breath You Take' and you sang 'We'll be watching you' directing it at the G8 leaders. You haven't got too much faith in what they might deliver by the sound of that?"

Sting: "I have to say that I have to be optimistic, you have to optimistic even in the face of all of these problems. I was very much in favour of the Live 8 mandate to reduce the debt and to double the aid. I think Africa is in the front line of all of these problems - whether it's AIDS, whether it's poverty, whether it's disease, or whether it's famine or drought. Most of all, I'm concerned about the environment. I think we can turn Africa's economics around - we can do that. We can create stable economies, we can create the infrastructure for health and for education but without the environment all of this will count for nothing. We're back to square one. This is my main concern. It needs to be linked to the environment."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "You've been talking about these issues and campaigning about them for a very, very long time. You haven't exactly been polite about President Bush's contribution so far. Do you think it can be done without America or not?"

Sting: "No, I don't think it can. I think we need to convince Mr Bush that global warming is in fact a reality. 2005, according to NASA, will be the hottest summer on record. The second hottest summer on record was 2004. The facts speak for themselves. It's complicated science but we can see what is happening."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "You say you have to be optimistic. That's because you think they are getting the message and you hope that President Bush is also getting the message?"

Sting: "I want him to get the message. His scientists are telling him the same thing. He needs to listen."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Let's bring in now the last of our 'People's Eight' and this is Titus Davis who is a furniture maker who both cycles and recycles. Titus?"

Titus Davis: "I believe the summit will be a failure unless the G8 acts to take effective action to tackle climate change. I'd like an assurance that Tony Blair will lead the other countries in standing up to the Americans on this issue and making them feel the weight of public opinion."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Is he going to stand up to the Americans, Chancellor?"

Gordon Brown: "I think it is moving already. President Bush has made a statement saying that he accepts that global warming is a problem and he accepts that it is at least partly man-made. What I think will happen is that the World Bank will be asked to bring together not just America and Europe but to bring together the developing countries - and bring together China and India which are a very important part of this debate - and we've got to look at alternative sources of energy, better and more efficient use of energy and we've got to take on board the scientific research that Sting has just been talking about, and I think that there has got to be money behind this so that we can persuade people to do things, particularly in the developing countries."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "When you say 'money behind this', what does that mean?"

Gordon Brown: "I think the World Bank will put up the money for this, and I hope that this will be one of the conclusions that comes out of Gleneagles and then the annual meetings of the World Bank. Sting has made a huge contribution himself by his interest in rainforest, and we will be discussing at Gleneagles the International Forestry agreement as well, but I think we've got to get every major country - particularly China and India - now involved in this process."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "How important is this to you in Tanzania, President?"

President Mkapa: "It's very important, especially two aspects of it. First of course, deforestation, because more than 90% of the energy used in our countries is derived from wood, and that means deforestation. And secondly, in consequence, it effects the seasons. The rainy season is now more and more unpredictable. The quantities of rain are more and more unpredictable and harvest are becoming more and more minimal. It's effecting not just the income poverty of production but the very livelihood, the very survival of life itself."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Kofi Annan, the peasants in Tanzania only use only a tiny proportion per head of the CO2 energy that is used up. America, what with 4% of the world's population consumes 25% of the CO2, but refuses to sign up to the targets to which Britain and others have signed up. Is that a frustration for you?"

Kofi Annan: "We cannot do it without the US and the other big countries but I think Sting put his hand on something. In addition to global warming to have sustainable development and growth we have to manage the resources of the earth in a wise way and protect our forests. We are now exploiting it in an unsustainable manner that is going to create real problems. But on the global warming aspect, I think it cannot be done without the US and the other big countries."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Forgive me, but there was huge song and dance again made through the United Nations at Kyoto. Targets, a lot of people thought them very modest targets but at least they sort of put a marker down. America says no to targets. 'Do targets matter?' people will want to know or don't they?"

Kofi Annan: "It is difficult to impose a target. They have to come on board willingly. But I think we need to look beyond Kyoto. Kyoto takes us to 2012. The issue is so big it is going to be continuous and this is why it is important that not only do we put a marker down but we try and maintain it and respect it so we can go beyond Kyoto and protect our environment."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Chancellor, you spoke with cautious enthusiasm about the extent to which the President Bush appears to have woken up to this. Is it enough though that Gleneagles produces warm words about the need for more research into renewable and alternative energy because that's what people are expecting, a fudge."

Gordon Brown: "It won't be enough because people want to see action. We have targets, we support there being targets. The Kyoto Treaty has actually been implemented because 25% of the countries are now prepared to go ahead with it, and we will continue to have targets and to meet our targets. But as Kofi Annan said, we have got to get everyone involved in this debate for the future, particularly America, China and India."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "But how long do these debates have to go on for when year after year the problem is clearly - by your own account, by what Sting is saying - getting worse and worse? There's debate and debate and debate isn't there? We can debate until we are all consumed by CO2."

Gordon Brown: "We've got a target and we're trying to meet it. Other countries - Russia was the latest to sign up to a target that they will meet and they have a great deal of coal and therefore a lot of emissions - but, you've got to get everybody together and that is what I think the World Bank may be able to do and offer incentives, particularly to the developing countries to have alternative sources of energy."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Titus, what do you make of that against your challenge to start with?"

Titus Davis: "My fear is that the action is going to be too little too late but obviously what we're doing is important and every step is a help so I'll have to try and be optimistic. But I think it just needs continued pressure."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "Sting?"

Sting: "I'd just like to take a specific example. There's a plan on the table, supported by the World Bank, to go into the Congo. Now the Congo has a population of 50,000,000 people, 35,000,000 of those people live in and depend on the resources of the forest. The plan is to go in there and an area the size of France, 600,000 square kilometres, is going to be opened to international logging companies who will go in there and completely clear cut it - rape it - and leave the people who live there with absolutely nothing. This is not making poverty history, this is poverty in the making. And I'm concerned that no one... no one knows about this, it's just happening under the table."

Jonathan Dimbleby: "A lot of people know about it now. Kofi?"

Kofi Annan: "I was going to say that on the question of cheap and affordable sources of energy for the poor so that they stop cutting down the trees - that is a challenge I give to all scientists. Give us a cheap and affordable source of energy quickly so that the farmers can use it and not do this. The other thing I want to say to the audience is that as individuals they do have power. Sting is doing his thing, but all of you as citizens are consumers and you have choices. You can put pressure on by the choices you make - what you buy and what you refuse to buy to send messages to those who are manufacturing and using the wrong technology when there is green technology available."

(Transcribed by T, D&W)

You may wish to assist the Rainforest Foundation by signing their petition to stop the World Bank carve-up of the Congo forests. If so, please visit: http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/s-Petition%20the%20World%20Bank%20on%20Congo%20Forests and sign up.
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