The G7 summit was convene from June 10 to June 13. The three days summit has drawn applause and criticism from the public, economists and pundits alike. For those that are not aware, G7 or the Group of Seven is an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. It was founded way back in 1975. This year summit had taken place in Cornwall in the United Kingdom while it holds the presidency of the G7. The participants comprise of leaders of the G7 member states as well as representatives of the European Union. In this year’s summit, India, Australia, South Africa and South Korea has been invited as guest countries.
Some of the major takeaways from the summit is:
- Leaders have promised to donate one billion Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries
- Ending the use of coal
- Ending economic dependence on China
Pledging vaccine doses to poor nations
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK will donate 100 million vaccines while Canada will be donating 13 million surplus vaccine doses to developing countries – whether directly or through the Covax scheme, co-led by the World Health Organization. US President Joe Biden started the summit by announcing a commitment to share 500 million coronavirus vaccine doses with the world. Collectively, G7 leaders express their intent to give out more than one billion vaccine doses to low-income countries in the next year.
The summit pledges to “end the pandemic and prepare for the future by driving an intensified international effort, starting immediately, to vaccinate the world by getting as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible as fast as possible”.
Ending the usage of coal
According to Reuters, The Group of Seven nations have pledged to scale up technologies and policies that accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, including ending new government support by the end of this year. The G7 leaders – the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan said, “coal power generation is the single cause of greenhouse gas emission”, adding that “continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach”.
However, the G7 wealthy democracies have failed to agree on a timeline to end their use of coal for electrical power, which has drawn massive criticism. In a report by Politico, the Biden administration was wary of any language specifically clamping down on coal. In respond to that, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the US sought language that aligns with the president’s domestic commitments, including a carbon free power sector by 2035. “We secured that language,” she said. For Japan, since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident has viewed coal power as critical to its energy security, was also opposed. Though the leaders have come to an agreement to stop financing coal plants and mines by the end of this year, it is unclear whether Japan will follow suit with the policy change.
Economic dependence on China
In the summit, the Group of Seven have come to an agreement that China’s grip on economies need to end, calling out to China on human rights issue while also acknowledging cooperation with the state is needed in areas such as climate change. G7 also called for a new investigation into the origins of Covid-19, and for the first time, emphasised peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. According to analysis by The Guardian, Biden was especially keen for the G7 leaders not just to decry the use of forced labour in western China in their communique, but for the west collectively agree to act.
In an article by South China Morning Post, Li Mingjiang, an associate professor with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said that there was a growing unity among G7 on China. “It’s unprecedented, in the sense that you have never seen such a united front as demonstrated in this joint communique, in the history of the G7,” he said.
Nevertheless, China hit back at the G7 summit, saying that the days when global decisions decided by a “small group” of countries are a thing of the past. State-run Global Times quoted statement issued by the China’s Embassy in London saying that there is only one system, the international system, which is led by the United Nations. “We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled by consultations by all countries,” it said.
Outcomes yet to be seen
Now the summit has ended, however many of us are left with more questions than answers, so, we have no idea how it will play out in the future. It is quite a bold move to want to end China’s economic powers instead of reaching a general consensus with it. Though it is understandable why the leaders to take such a stance against China, as the country is embroiled with so much controversies such as abuse of human rights, as well as its grip on Hong Kong and Taiwan. But on the other hand, these leaders needed cooperation from China in area such as climate change, which had everyone raising their eyebrows.
While there is a lot to be concern about, the main priority is still tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s good to see the world leaders pledging to donate vaccines to the poor countries. Now we can only speculate how the relation with China will go and how committed the world leader is in ending usage of coal, but for now we’ll just have to wait and see.