CARBIS BAY, England (AP) – Group of Seven leaders aim to complete their first summit in two years with a hard-hitting set of promises on Sunday, including vaccinating the world against the coronavirus, getting big companies to pay their fair share of taxes and tackling climate change with a mix of technology and money.
They want to show that international cooperation is back after the upheaval caused by the pandemic and the unpredictability of former US President Donald Trump. And they want to make it clear that the club of wealthy democracies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US – is a better friend of poorer nations than authoritarian rivals like China.
But he wasn’t sure how firm the group’s commitments on coronavirus vaccines, the economy and the environment were when executives issue their final press release. It was also unclear whether all the leaders would support the US call to rebuke China for cracking down on its Uyghur minority and other abuses.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the summit, wanted the three-day meeting to fly the flag of a “global Britain”, his government’s pressure to give the midsize country disproportionate global influence.
Yet Brexit cast a shadow over that goal at the summit on England’s southwest coast. European Union leaders and US President Joe Biden have raised concerns over issues related to new UK-EU trade rules that have exacerbated tensions in Northern Ireland.
But overall, the mood was positive: leaders smiled for the cameras on cliff-lined Carbis Bay beach, a village and resort town that became a crowded fortress for the meeting. The last G-7 summit was in France in 2019, with last year’s event in the United States being scuttled by the pandemic.
The leaders mingled with Queen Elizabeth II at a royal reception on their first night and were served steak and lobster at a beach barbecue after attending a Royal Air Force flight demonstration Red Arrows on their second night.
The allies of the United States were visibly relieved to find the United States as a committed international actor after the Trump administration’s “America First” policy.
“The United States is back and the democracies of the world stand together,” Biden said upon arriving in the UK on the first overseas trip of his 5-month presidency. After the G-7 summit, the president will have tea with the Queen on Sunday, attend a NATO summit in Brussels on Monday and meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.
At the G-7, Johnson described Biden as a “breath of fresh air”. French President Emmanuel Macron, after speaking one-on-one with Biden, said: “It’s great to have a US president who is part of the club and very willing to cooperate.”
The revitalized G-7 has made ambitious statements at its meetings on girls’ education, preventing future pandemics and financing greener infrastructure globally. Above all, they pledged to share vaccine doses with less well-off countries that urgently need them. Johnson said the group will pledge at least 1 billion doses, with half from the United States and 100 million from Britain.
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other public health officials welcomed the commitment on the vaccine, but said it was not enough. To truly end the pandemic, he said, 11 billion doses are needed to immunize at least 70% of the world’s population by mid-2022.
“We need more and we need it faster,” Tedros said.
Climate change is a key focus on the final day of leaders’ talks on Sunday, and the group is expected to announce new financing measures to help poorer countries reduce their carbon emissions.
The “Build Back Better for the World” plan will promise to provide funding for infrastructure – “from railways in Africa to wind farms in Asia” – to help accelerate the global transition to renewable energy. The plan is a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has increased Beijing’s global influence.
Climate activists and analysts say filling up an annual fund of $ 100 billion to help poor countries tackle the effects of global warming should be high on the G-7’s list.
All G-7 countries have pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but many environmentalists say it will be too little, too late.
Naturalist David Attenborough addressed leaders via video on Sunday, warning that humanity is “on the verge of destabilizing the entire planet.”
“If this is the case, then the decisions we make during this decade – in particular the decisions taken by the most economically advanced countries – are the most important in the history of mankind,” he said. said the veteran documentary maker.
Max Lawson, Inequality Policy Officer for Oxfam International, welcomed plans to boost investment to help poor countries reduce their carbon footprints, but said “it doesn’t help the poor who are currently affected by climate change ”.
“So yes, that’s probably a good thing but is it enough? Absolutely not,” he said.
Large crowds of surfers and kayakers took to the sea in a mass protest on Saturday to demand better protections for the world’s oceans, as thousands drummed as they marched past the media center from the summit to Falmouth.
“The G-7 is greenwashing,” sang the demonstrators. “We are drowned in promises, now is the time to act.”
White House officials also said Biden wanted G-7 leaders to speak with one voice against forced labor practices targeting Uyghur Muslims in China and other ethnic minorities. Biden hopes the denunciation will be part of a joint statement on Sunday, but some European allies are reluctant to part with Beijing so forcefully.
Canada, Britain and France have broadly endorsed Biden’s stance on China, while Germany, Italy and the European Union have been more reluctant, according to two senior officials from the ‘Biden administration.
The final executive statement is also expected to officially adopt the imposition of a global minimum tax of at least 15% on large multinational companies to prevent companies from using tax havens to avoid taxes.
The minimum rate has been championed by the United States and aligns with Biden – and Johnson’s – goal of focusing the summit on ways in which democracies can work together to build a more inclusive and equitable global economy and compete with it. rising autocracies like China.
India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa, non-G-7 countries, were invited to participate as guests to strengthen the group’s support for other democracies.
Lawless, Kirka and Hui reported from Falmouth, England.
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