The heads of the government at the summit, which took place in Cornwall between 11-13 June, “wasted a precious face-to-face meeting to encourage each other and deliver urgent and desperately need action on COVID and the climate crisis”, Allen said.
G7 leaders announced the group of rich countries would provide one billion vaccines to developing countries over the next year – although the World Health Organisation has said 11 billion jabs will be required to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control. The heads of government also reiterated a previous pledge to provide $100bn in ‘climate finance’ – money to assist developing hit hardest by the impacts of global heating – rather than setting out how this goal would be achieved. Christine Allen said: “It is clear that the G7 leaders have not adequately heard the voices of the world’s poor in relation to vaccines and climate finance.
“Will the actions of these G7 nations create necessary trust around the world as we move towards the next major summit in the UK – COP26? I’d say that’s unlikely. If Boris Johnson believes that ‘global Britain’ is a force for good, then he needs to show by his actions the moral imperative to take urgent action for a fairer, greener and just world.”
Campaign groups including CAFOD said a commitment by G7 countries to provide an additional one billion vaccines to poorer nations over the next year was insufficient, given the group’s pledge to “vaccinate the world by getting as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible as fast as possible”.
Aisha Dodwell, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD, said: “Rich countries have secured more than enough vaccines to cover their own populations, but what they are offering the rest of the world will only help a fraction of those yet to be vaccinated. If G7 leaders are serious about securing vaccines for all, then they should all support proposals for a waiver to the COVID vaccine patent put forward by South Africa and India and backed by an increasing number of world leaders, including Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron.”
CAFOD campaigners had urged Boris Johnson to use the G7 summit to build momentum ahead of the COP26 climate talks the UK is hosting in November.
Leaders reiterated the importance of the 1.5C global warming target, promises to reach net-zero by 2050 and commitments to improve financial support for low-income countries to deal with the climate crisis. But the prime ministers and presidents in Cornwall failed to make more ambitious financial commitments. Aisha Dodwell said:
“Before COP26, we need wealthy nations to significantly step up their spending on climate finance for the countries and communities struggling to deal with the effects of climate change. We also need all wealthy nations to immediately end support for new fossil fuels, both domestically and internationally.”
The G7 leaders in Cornwall backed moves to allocate additional financial support to countries struggling to pay debts at the same time as fighting the pandemic through what are known as ‘Special Drawing Rights’. These are a mechanism for providing additional finance or ‘assets’ to countries, but the heads of government at the summit pushed for these to be made available through loans rather than grants, which risks adding to debt burdens for low- and middle-income countries.
The leaders at the summit failed to discuss the cancellation of debts, which is critical for helping countries facing debt crises to recover from the pandemic and which Pope Francis has urged governments to support.