China, climate and Covid-19 vaccines: What the G-7 agreed this weekend

Total G-7 commitments since the start of the pandemic provide for a total of over two billion vaccine doses.
Total G-7 commitments since the start of the pandemic provide for a total of over two billion vaccine doses.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - The Group of Seven (G-7) rich nations promised to tackle China’s growing influence, fight climate change, get more Covid-19 jabs to poor countries and keep up their economic stimulus programmes at their first summit since Joe Biden became US president.

Following is a summary of the main points agreed by the leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada at their three-day meeting at a beachside hotel in south-west England which ended on Sunday (June 13).

Climate change

The G-7 said it would meet a long overdue funding pledge of US$100 billion (S$132.5 billion) a year by rich countries to help poorer ones cut emissions and cope with global warming. Aid campaigners said the promises remained vague and could undermine efforts for a new global deal to cut emissions later this year.

The G-7 also promised to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

Covid-19 vaccines

Leaders agreed to donate 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next year to poorer countries. But the United Nations said more was needed and campaigners said the pledge showed the G-7 was not yet on top of tackling the crisis.

China

The G-7 singled out China in their communique for human rights in Xinjiang, demanded freedoms and a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong, and said a full investigation was needed into the origins of the novel coronavirus.

It also sought to counter China’s growing influence by offering developing nations an infrastructure plan that could rival Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative by supporting projects such as railways in Africa and wind farms in Asia.

Russia

The G7 demanded Russia take action to halt cyber attacks that demand ransoms from businesses in the West. It called on Moscow to stop its “destabilising behaviour and malign activities” and investigate the use of chemical weapons.

Economic stimulus

After the historic economic slump of 2020, the G-7 leaders agreed to continue their huge support programmes “for as long as is necessary” and avoid the mistakes of the past when stimulus had been scaled back too early. “Once the recovery is firmly established, we need to ensure the long-term sustainability of public finances,” they said.

IMF funds

The G-7 stopped short of committing to concrete steps for rich countries to reallocate US$100 billion of their share of International Monetary Fund assets to poorer countries hit by Covid-19, saying they wanted other countries to contribute too. G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors would “urgently consider the detail of this, including by working with the G-20 and other stakeholders.”

Brexit

Tensions between London and other European capitals flared again. Britain’s Boris Johnson said he would do “whatever it takes” to protect the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom. After a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Johnson said some countries “seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country... I just need to get that into their heads.”

Biden and the world

Biden was welcomed with open arms by the other G-7 leaders after the isolationist stance of Donald Trump. “It’s great to have a US president who’s part of the club and very willing to cooperate,” France’s Macron said. “It used to be complete chaos,” a source attending the talks said.

"We commit to accelerate the transition away from new sales of diesel and petrol cars to promote the uptake of zero emission vehicles."