Last updated on July 1, 2021
The G7, or “Group of Seven,” is an influential organization of seven leading democracies – Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States – that gather annually to discuss global issues. After almost two years, G7 world leaders met again at the 47th summit in Cornwall, England. Leaders from India, South Africa, South Korea, Australia, and the European Union additionally attended as guests.
The summit was necessary to discuss the pressing issues of pandemic recovery and climate change. British housing minister Robert Jenrick reassured that the proper precautions would be taken to prevent infection: “… people who do come are being tested regularly and so on… It is important for international leaders to meet to discuss the issues of the day.” (Reuters)
Over these three days, world leaders proposed several solutions to the pandemic and climate change. The effects of the two have become increasingly threatening to our future and demand immediate attention. But are G7’s solutions enough?
Leaders discussed the development of a global protocol to respond to similar pandemics in the future. This is especially necessary as the likelihood of pandemics is rising with time due to climate change and globalization.
Developing countries’ limited access to vaccines hinders their ability to stop the spread of COVID-19. The spreading of the virus threatens lives, not only within these developing countries but outside of them as well: the virus mutates as it spreads, and many variants have already been discovered.
Thus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson underlined the importance of vaccinations, “Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history… I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge we will never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.” (Reuters)
G7 countries pledged to donate and distribute 1 billion vaccine doses to developing countries. While this commitment will undoubtedly slow the spread, far more ambition is needed.
According to the charity Oxfam, 11 billion vaccine doses are necessary to effectively end the pandemic. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed, “We would need more than [G7’s vaccine plan]… We need a global vaccination plan. We need to act with a logic, with a sense of urgency, and with the priorities of a war economy, and we are still far from getting that.” (Reuters) A real structured solution is needed rather than a ‘passing round the begging bowl,” as former British prime minister Gordon Brown put it.
Is this all the G7 has to offer? If so, Johnson’s target to “vaccinate the world” by the end of next year isn’t going to happen. Without a clear plan, his words are empty. And with coronavirus running rampant in developing countries, there is no room for failure.
As climate change accelerates, it must be a top priority for G7 countries. And while there has been an improved focus on climate change with the United States’ new administration, this improvement is not enough.
A final communique released after the summit outlined the group’s climate goals: “Protect our planet by supporting a green revolution that… seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees. We commit to net-zero no later than 2050, halving our collective emissions over the two decades to 2030, increasing and improving climate finance to 2025; and to conserve or protect at least 30 percent of our land and oceans by 2030.” (White House)
To work towards this promise, G7 countries committed to decreasing their use of coal and pledged $2 billion to aid developing countries in transitioning to cleaner energy. Additionally, countries pledged $100 billion a year to be mobilized from public to private sources to reduce emissions in developing countries.
While this promise is commendable for its efforts to cut emissions, $100 billion is simply not enough to address the extensive climate crisis. Teresa Anderson from Action Aid observed this shortcoming, “The G7’s reaffirmation of the previous $100 billion a year target doesn’t come close to addressing the urgency and scale of the crisis.” (BBC)
The “Build Back Better World” Partnership that aims to “[meet] the tremendous infrastructure needs of low-and-middle-income countries” was also discussed. This is especially relevant with the increasing demand for infrastructure in developing countries due to the pandemic. By rivaling China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the “Build Back Better World” Partnership is also an indicator of the United States and China’s struggle for influence across the globe.
The bottom line? Far more ambition is needed from G7, whether it pertains to global health or reducing emissions. To save our future, we need to go all in.