From vaccine sharing to climate, G-7 talks yield agreements
FALMOUTH, England (AP) — The Group of Seven wealthy democracies have wrapped up their first face-to-face summit in two years at a seaside resort in southwest England. The leaders of the G-7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — made commitments on a range of topics, from sharing coronavirus vaccines to tackling climate change and making corporate taxation fairer.
Their final agreement from the three-day meeting also included a section on challenging China over “non-economic” economic practices and calling on Beijing to respect human rights.
Here are details on the key topics they covered:
The presidents and prime ministers committed to sharing at least 1 billion vaccine shots with struggling countries over the next year, with deliveries starting in August. U.S. President Joe Biden pledged 500 million doses. Britain and Canada committed to 100 million shots each, and France said it would pitch in with 60 million doses.
However, the World Health Organization has said that 11 billion doses are needed to truly end the pandemic. Public health advocates also argue that promising vaccine doses isn’t enough, and that money and logistical help are needed to get shots into the arms of people in poorer countries.
Leaders committed to ending new direct government support for “unabated international thermal coal power generation” -- the use of coal without technology to reduce carbon emissions - by the end of the year, and backed a $2-billion coal transition fund.
They also pledged to conserve or protect at least 30% of their countries’ land and marine areas by 2030 as part of global biodiversity targets. And they agreed to increase financing for projects to curb climate change until 2025 and reaffirmed their support for a target of producing net-zero carbon emissions no later than 2050.
Leading climate groups said the summit fell far short of delivering meaningful details. They urged rich countries to go beyond reiterating existing obligations and to put concrete new climate financing on the table.
The G-7 leaders said they would work together to challenge China’s “non-market policies.” They also agreed to call on Beijing to respect human rights in Xinjiang, the remote western region where Chinese authorities are accused of committing serious rights abuses against the Uyghur minority, and in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.
U.S. President Joe Biden had wanted to persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with Beijing and to strongly call out China’s “nonmarket policies and human rights abuses.”
The leaders committed to remove forced labor in global supply chains, “including state-sponsored forced labor of vulnerable groups and minorities.” This section of their meeting communique did not mention China by name, but the White House said the language was aimed at the main supply chains of concern in the Xinjiang region.
G-7 leaders endorsed a global minimum tax of at least 15% on multinational corporations, a measure meant to stop businesses from using tax havens to shift profits and to avoid taxes.
Their agreement backed a plan outlined earlier by G-7 finance ministers. The seven countries hope many more will sign on, but that’s a fraught proposal in nations with economies based on using low corporate taxes to attract businesses.
Leaders agreed to an infrastructure proposal called “Build Back Better for the World” that calls for spending hundreds of billions of dollars in collaboration with the private sector to finance greener infrastructure projects in poorer countries.
It is designed to compete with China’s multi-trillion-dollar “Belt and Road” initiative, which funds a vast network of infrastructure covering large portions of the world, primarily Asia and Africa.
FUTURE PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS
Leaders said that in the event of a future pandemic, they will seek to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines, treatment and diagnostic tests within the first 100 days.
Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, said a “100 Day Mission” report gave leaders recommendations for speeding up responses to another pandemic but acknowledged that any such response must be global and include countries that don’t belong to the G-7.
The leaders said COVID-19 has exacerbated underlying inequalities and led to an education crisis, especially for girls. They backed a target of getting 40 million more girls in school by 2026 in poorer countries, and committed to a combined $2.75 billion in funding over the next five years for the Global Partnership for Education.