Why economists and activists are disillusioned with pledges

(LR) President of the European Council Charles Michel, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi pose for the official welcome and family photo of the heads of state and government during the G7 Carbis Bay Summit on June 11, 2021 in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON – A three-day meeting between the heads of state and government of some of the world’s richest nations was a failure, according to some economists and activists who argue the group fell short of its own standards to agree on comprehensive action to combat the climate crisis and Covid pandemic.

The leaders of the G-7, a group of the world’s largest so-called advanced economies, issued a joint statement on Sunday pledging to take action on Covid vaccines, China and the global corporate tax.

After meeting in the English coastal town of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, the heads of state and government promised to receive one billion more doses of vaccine in the next 12 months, either directly or through the World Health Organization’s COVAX organization.

The communique on Sunday also urged China to “respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly with regard to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong, which are enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law” .

The G-7 pledged to eradicate their contribution to the climate emergency, reaffirmed their commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and vowed to eliminate most of coal energy. It also supported a minimum tax of at least 15% on large multinational corporations to prevent companies from using tax havens for tax avoidance, a US-led initiative

The announcements have been considered significant by groups such as COVAX and the Confederation of British Industry, the latter of whom said the summit “rekindled the belief that the international community can come together in a spirit of cooperation to address the great problems of our time. “

However, critics say the promises are not new, there is a lack of detail and some are simply inadequate.

“The G7 leaders have completely failed to face the challenges of the world,” said Nick Dearden, director of the Global Justice Now campaign group. “After a diplomatic weekend, they just repeated their own inadequate climate goals and failed to meet their own inadequate global vaccination goals.”

“This G7 summit has been, by and large, a pointless exercise without making significant progress in addressing the crises of our lives. This summit proves beyond any doubt that the G7 is unsuitable for its purpose, ”said Dearden.

The group of seven consists of Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA. The EU, which sends the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, also participates. Australia, India and South Korea were also invited this year.

“Cracks are still there”

The summit was seen as a unique opportunity for policymakers to meet in person and agree on the actions necessary to address some of the most pressing global issues such as the coronavirus and the climate crisis.

The communique did not contain a detailed country-specific commitment or a timetable for implementing the global vaccination campaign, and many of the commitments had been agreed in advance.

In a statement on Monday, Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS Global Wealth Management, described the G-7 as a “selfie summit”.

“The focus of the G7 meeting (the photo opportunity) seemed to be going well. The rest of the meeting expertly whitewashed the cracks,” he wrote.

Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe, Donovan added, “We didn’t have the same direct, big impact. We had a lot of vague statements.”

“The rifts may not be as deep this time around because of the change in leadership in the United States and the fact that the US is playing a more active role, but the rifts are still there,” he said.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists take part in the Sound The Alarm march during the G7 Cornwall Summit June 11, 2021 in St Ives, Cornwall, England.

Jeff J. Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The world’s richest countries have come under severe criticism for access to vaccines amid the pandemic.

Many groups have pushed for the surrender of certain intellectual property rights in Covid vaccines and treatments, including the WHO, health experts, former world leaders and international medical charities.

India and South Africa jointly submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization in October calling for politicians to facilitate the production of Covid treatments on site and to promote the global vaccination campaign.

Several months later, the proposal was blocked by a small number of governments – including the EU, the UK, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Canada, Australia and Brazil.

Success of COP26 “hangs in the balance”

“We have heard warm words about a Marshall Green Plan and ambitions to vaccinate the world, but this falls far short of what is needed,” said Patrick Watt, director of politics, public affairs and campaigns for the UK charity Christian Aid.

“This is a partial plan, not a Marshall Plan,” said Watt, arguing that the G-7 leadership has made no real progress on aid pledges, comprehensive debt relief, climate finance and “vaccine apartheid”.

“The success of the COP26 climate summit is now pending. There is still time for rich nations to put together a solidarity package that will overcome these interconnected crises. Without it, the COP will fail.”

Policymakers are under increasing pressure to deliver on promises made under the groundbreaking 2015 Paris Agreement ahead of this year’s COP26, due to take place in Glasgow, Scotland in early November.

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