First G-7 summit since the pandemic; nations barely show unity
Leaders of industrialized countries have produced numerous photo ops against the English coastline, supplemented by walks and barbecues, but have not generated any sort of determined response that is supposed to address today’s multiple global challenges.
If there was a time when ambition should have defined international action and coordination, it was last week, but the leaders of the richer countries seemed guided by their narrow national agendas. It was the first in-person G-7 summit since the spread of the coronavirus around the world crippled economies.
High expectations: a plan of action to end the pandemic, inject life into the global economy, provide new resources to fight climate change and paint a vision of how they see the new order evolving . On some issues it was a complete failure; on others, partial success.
Much energy has been expended to establish that “America is back”, and expressions of relief at the absence of Donald Trump and the presence of Joe Biden. The feud between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Emmanuel Macron over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland has dominated at least one news cycle.
Besides welcoming Biden, Europeans weren’t ready to embrace his agenda on China besides condemning Beijing for human rights abuses – the easiest box to tick on the Asian giant. Even that was vague and ended up kicking the ball in a task force to find ways to ban products made by forced labor.
Besides welcoming Biden, Europeans weren’t ready to embrace his China agenda besides condemning Beijing for human rights abuses – the easiest box to tick on the Asian giant. Even that was vague and ended up kicking the ball in a task force to find ways to ban products made by forced labor.
the 25 page press release was verbose, stating that the G-7 partnership “revitalized” and ready to “build back better” with “freer and fairer trade” within a reformed trading system. He pledged the welfare of “everyone” in one of the most bombastic statements.
In terms of concrete announcements, the G-7 has pledged one billion doses of vaccine to the world’s poorest countries over the next year. It’s literally a drop in the bucket, if the goal is to vaccinate at least 40% of the population in all countries by the end of 2021, as recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a article last month. WHO said 11 billion doses are needed to immunize 70 percent.
The IMF document, written by Ruchir Agarwal and Gita Gopinath, says it simply: “The policy of pandemic is also an economic policy”, because without containing the pandemic, the economies cannot recover. The cost of immunizing 40 percent of the world’s population is estimated at around US $ 50 billion, but there is a funding gap of around US $ 22 billion. The G-7’s commitment to the “WHO COVID-19 effort under the Act-Accelerator” partnership is $ 10 billion. That leaves a big gap, which the G-7 didn’t try to fill between their runs on the beach and their dunks in the ocean.
On climate change, the G-7 reaffirmed its goal of keeping the global warming threshold at 1.5 degrees Celsius and halving its emissions by 2030, but made no commitment on resources. for developing countries. This does not prepare a solid stage for COP26, the UN climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November. The climate finance target of US $ 100 billion per year by 2020 is far from being met as mistrust grows between those who create the climate crisis and those who must undertake the cleanup.
On climate change, the G-7 reaffirmed its goal of keeping the global warming threshold at 1.5 degrees Celsius and halving its emissions by 2030, but made no commitment on resources. for developing countries. This does not prepare a solid stage for COP26, the UN climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November
Thus, some leaders announced funds that they had previously made public, as Johnson did, while others simply signed the communiqué and “welcome the commitments already made by some members of the G- 7 to increase climate finance “. Poor countries buried under the growing debt burden to cope with the pandemic should find their own resources for clean technologies.
The only significant achievement, which should have received more applause than it received, was the agreement on a global minimum tax of 15% on multinational corporations that have managed to play with the system for years. by hiding their profits in offshore havens. The new tax could be the start of the end of at least the most brazen abuses, especially by big tech companies. But a lot of rules need to be set and loopholes closed before Amazon and Google pay their fair share of taxes.
This seismic shift in perspective in the Western mind is partly due to the political turmoil of the Democratic Party in the United States (US) and the rise of progressives. As the ultimate pragmatist, Biden recognized the moment and initially proposed to tax corporations at 21%.
But on China, the Europeans have avoided Biden’s hard line, choosing to debate “the depth of the challenge” instead of formulating a common approach. German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of cooperation, acknowledging that China and the G-7 have different “social systems”.
In the end, the only thing they agreed on was to mention human rights violations in Xinjiang, something Beijing can easily ignore because there is no price to pay. China is betting on a rift between the United States and Europe, and so far it turns out to be the case. Those who seek a united front, clear leadership and definitive policies will have to wait longer.