The Phnom Penh Post

G7 leaders take on pandemic, climate change, infrastruc­ture


GROUP of Seven (G7) leaders on June 12 confronted­thethreat of future pandemics as the elite club of wealthy nations advertised a newfound Western unity at its first physical summit since 2019.

After an informal evening get-together – featuring a Royal Air Force aerobatics display, beach barbecue, firepit marshmallo­ws and a Cornish troupe singing sea shanties – the leaders were to wrap up their threeday summit on June 13.

At their concluding session in Cornwall, southwest England, US President Joe Biden and his colleagues will back new conservati­on and emission targets to curb climate change, according to the UK hosts.

In a “Nature Compact”, slated for a June 13 release with the G7’s final communique, they will commit to nearly halving their carbon emissions by 2030 – relative to 2010 – as well as vowing to halt and reverse biodiversi­ty loss.

The leaders are also set to promise more financial support for developing countries on the sharp edge of climate change, in the buildup to the UN’s COP26 environmen­tal summit in Scotland in November.

Such actions were unthinkabl­e under former president Donald Trump, but Biden is touting a message of revived US leadership on his first foreign tour.

“We’re on the same page,” Biden told reporters as he met French President Emmanuel Macron on the summit sidelines, pushing to rally the West against a recalcitra­nt Russia.

Asked if other G7 leaders agreed with him about a US diplomatic renaissanc­e, Biden pointed to Macron, who replied: “Definitely.”

Promising to “collective­ly catalyse” hundreds of billions

of infrastruc­ture investment for low- and middle-income countries, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “valuesdriv­en, high-standard and transparen­t” partnershi­p.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project an “important initiative” that was much needed in infrastruc­ture-poor Africa.

Britain meanwhile hailed G7 agreement on the “Carbis Bay Declaratio­n” – a series of commitment­s to curb future pandemics after Covid-19 wrecked economies and claimed millions of lives around the world.

The collective steps include slashing the time taken to develop and licence vaccines, treatments and diagnostic­s for any future disease to under 100 days, while reinforcin­g global surveillan­ce networks.

The G7 – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – was due to formally publish the pact on June 13, alongside the summit communique containing further details on the B3W.

“The #CarbisBayD­eclaration marks a proud and historic moment for us all,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter.

World Health Organisati­on chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s welcomed the health pact.

The G7 leaders are also expected to pledge to donate one billion vaccine doses to poor countries this year and next – although campaigner­s say the rollout is much too slow to end the crisis now.

After briefing the leaders in Cornwall, Tedros said he had set them the challenge of vaccinatin­g at least 70 per cent of the world’s population by their next summit in Germany next year.

“We welcome the generous announceme­nt made by G7 nations about donations of vaccines but we need more and we need them faster,” he told reporters. “Immediate donations are vital.”

Aid charity Oxfam said the declaratio­n “does nothing to address the fundamenta­l problems that are preventing

vaccines being accessible to the vast majority of humanity”.

The G7 was joined on June 12 by the leaders of Australia, South Africa and South Korea, with India taking part remotely, for a wide-ranging discussion about foreign policy challenges.

The regimes of Belarus and Myanmar are among those in the G7’s sights.

The US president will also seek to address frayed relations with Moscow, in particular over its cyber activity.

Most of the G7 leaders will reconvene on June 14 in Brussels for a NATO meeting, before Biden heads on to his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, vowing to deliver a blunt message about Russian behaviour.

In an interview with US network NBC News released on June 11, Putin voiced hope that Biden would exhibit none of the “impulse-based movements” of Trump, who notoriousl­y sided with the Russian leader against the views of his own intelligen­ce chiefs.

 ?? AFP ?? The Group of Seven (G7) has been rallying behind collective action on climate change.
AFP The Group of Seven (G7) has been rallying behind collective action on climate change.

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