On Sunday, G7 leaders will back new conservation and emissions targets to curb climate change and finalize collective action on several other fronts, as they conclude a three-day summit aimed at showcasing rekindled Western unity.
The group of major economies, which has held its first in-person rally in nearly two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, will agree to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans by the end of the decade.
The “Pact for Nature” concluded to try to stop and reverse the loss of biodiversity should also see them commit to reducing their carbon emissions by almost half by 2030, compared to 2010.
It includes the obligation to use only so-called clean coal for electricity “as soon as possible”, the end of most government support to the fossil fuel sector abroad and the phase-out of gasoline-powered cars and diesel.
Welcoming the pact, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who hosts the seaside summit in Cornwall, south-west England – said the G7 wanted “to lead a global green industrial revolution to transform the way we do business. live “.
“There is a direct relationship between reducing emissions, restoring nature, creating jobs and ensuring long-term economic growth,” he added, in remarks released before the conclusion. Summit.
Climate change was a key G7 priority for his government, as it tries to lay the groundwork to host the UN’s COP26 environment summit in Glasgow in November.
But even before the commitments were formally adopted, environmental activists criticized them as lacking in application and necessary reach.
“Despite the green sound bites, Boris Johnson has simply warmed up old promises and sprinkled his plan with hypocrisy, rather than taking concrete action to tackle the climate and natural emergency,” said the executive director of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven.
He also noted that rich countries had a “dismal record” over the past decade in honoring international commitments on climate finance.
The G7 – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – were eager to hold their first physical summit since August 2019 to reconnect after Donald Trump’s four years in power discord.
Joe Biden has sought to turn the page on the international isolationism of his predecessor, seeking to open a new chapter in the Western alliance after Trump alienated and infuriated him at every turn.
The UK government has turned to its royals to add a touch of grandeur to the G7 detente, with Queen Elizabeth II and her son Prince Charles hosting a Friday night reception attended by G7 and European Union leaders .
Joined on Saturday by their counterparts from Australia, South Africa and South Korea – with India also participating remotely – they then enjoyed an evening barbecue on the beach around fire pits, with a group of songs of sailors and roasted marshmallows.
Despite the lighter moments, the summit was largely devoted to the difficult task of forging a more comprehensive response to the pandemic.
Leaders have agreed on a statement to help prevent future pandemics and are expected to pledge to donate one billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to poor countries.
However, they also faced a setback there, with critics claiming it provides only a fraction of what is needed to inoculate the world with the virus, which has claimed nearly four million lives worldwide and always generates new variants.
Tea with the queen
The allies also unveiled US-led plans to counter China in funding infrastructure for the poorest countries, promising to “collectively catalyze” hundreds of billions of investments.
The “Building a Better World” (B3W) project is squarely aimed at competing with Beijing’s billion-dollar infrastructure initiative, the Belt and Road, which has been widely criticized for imposing debt on small countries. unmanageable.
Leaders will release more details on B3W in the traditional end-of-summit communiqué, alongside the release of the Carbis Bay statement on health policy.
G7 leaders were to resume discussions on other common foreign policy challenges, on promoting “open societies”.
Washington is pushing for a stronger position on China’s alleged forced labor practices against its Uyghur Muslim minority.
The current strained relationship with Moscow, particularly over its cyber activity, should also be included.
Most of those in attendance will meet again in Brussels for a NATO meeting on Monday, before Biden heads to his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, promising to deliver a direct message on Russian behavior.
Before that, the US President will visit the Queen at Windsor Castle on Sunday evening, where he and First Lady Jill Biden will have tea with Britain’s longest-serving monarch.