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Climate Change, Ebola, Ukraine: Brisbane's G20 Summit Wasn't Just About Economy

The G-20 Leaders - Caricatures. Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey (CC License)

The G-20 Leaders – Caricatures. Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey (CC License)

There was extensive debate about what should have been discussed at Brisbane’s G20 summit on 15-16 November. As Clarencegirl shared on her blog North Coast Voices, even Pope Francis had ideas for that very public member of his Catholic flock, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott:

…there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.

So what actually happened both in private meetings and the official forums? Netizens have had lots to say.

A speech by US President Barack Obama outside the official forum called on Australia “to step up” on climate change. It received lots of praise, including Meg Watson at Junkee:

You know when your dad’s been away for a while and he lays into you about not taking the rubbish out while he was gone? He says he’s not mad, just a little disappointed, then goes into an inspiring speech about how we all have to do our part around the house. That’s essentially what just happened to our entire country. President Obama has only been in Australia for a matter of hours and he’s already incited people to take action on climate change.

The view of well-known lawyer and human rights activist Julian Burnside was a popular retweet:

Abbott’s opening speech copped more criticism:

The satirical website Shovel was at work slamming his local content:

Many have been disappointed by the lack of aggression in the meeting of Australian PM Tony Abbott and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. There was no sign of Abbott’s threatened “shirtfront”.

It seemed to be time for cuddling and making up, according to @lynlinking:

Meanwhile, protests went ahead as expected with only a few arrests on Saturday. It is a sign of the times that independent legal observers were present to monitor events. Flickr has numerous Creative Commons images of the G20 summit, including this one:

Independent legal observers

Independent legal observers – Image courtesy flickr user Paul Cunningham

Any concerns that climate change and Ebola wouldn’t get into the final communiqué were dispelled:

Commitments to economic growth (an extra 2.1 percent of GDP by 2018) and reform were given the thumbs up by many online:

However, Robert Fairhead was cynical about real economic outcomes:

Ukraine didn’t make the communiqué, but Vladimir Putin was blasted by other leaders off stage apparently. Ed Johnson, Sydney bureau chief at Bloomberg News, mused:

Outside the summit, Tim O'Keefe captured protesters against Putin on video:

Finally, the Ebola crisis managed to make the agenda:

So was the 400 million Australian dollars (350 million US dollars) spent on the G20 summit by the Australian government, value for money? You be the judge!

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