Pandemic and climate emergency: the leaders of the great powers of the G7 are seeking common responses to global crises during their first meeting in nearly two years on Friday, starting with the redistribution of a billion doses of anti-Covid vaccines.
After months of videoconferencing, it is the return of discussions around the same table and discreet asides to debate global issues, with also a reception around Queen Elizabeth II on Friday and Saturday a barbecue on the beach with toasted marshmallows at the wood fire.
Until Sunday, the summit brings together Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the United States in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay, in the south-west of England. It will be the first for US President Joe Biden, committed to multilateralism after Donald Trump’s isolationist years, as for Mario Draghi and Yoshihide Suga.
It is the last, however, for Angela Merkel and perhaps Emmanuel Macron.
However, there is no question for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country is chairing the G7 this year, to shake hands with Heads of State and Government on their arrival: the event is subject to a host of constraints to prevent contamination. coronavirus, including daily screenings.
Precautions all the more necessary as the United Kingdom, with nearly 128,000 deaths from Covid-19, is facing a surge of the Delta variant threatening the lifting of the last restrictions in the country.
– One billion vaccines –
At the heart of the discussions are the recovery of a global economy hit by the pandemic and the more equitable sharing of anti-Covid vaccines by rich countries, which have monopolized a maximum of doses to the detriment of the poorest.
Faced with the multiplication of calls for solidarity, leaders should agree to provide “at least a billion doses” and increase production capacities, with the objective of “ending the pandemic in 2022”, according to Downing Street.
“The time has come for the world’s largest and most technologically advanced democracies to shoulder their responsibilities and immunize the world, because no one is protected until everyone is protected,” Boris said. Johnson.
The United States has already promised to give 500 million doses, and the British 100 million, mainly via the Covax sharing device.
This is insufficient, deplore NGOs: the G7 must approve the suspension of patents on vaccines to allow mass production. Washington and Paris are in favor, Germany firmly opposes it.
“At the current rate of vaccination, it would take 57 years for low-income countries to achieve the same level of protection as that of the G7 countries. This is morally unacceptable, but also counterproductive given the risk posed by changes in the coronavirus “, underlines Oxfam.
French President Emmanuel Macron also called on pharmaceutical companies to donate 10% of the doses sold and wanted the G7 to endorse the target of 60% of Africans vaccinated by the end of March 2022.
According to the Bloomberg agency, the G7 will also call for a new WHO investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.
– Climate Marshall Plan –
The fight against global warming will be the summit’s other priority, which aims to be carbon neutral, before the major UN climate conference (COP26) scheduled for November in Scotland.
Boris Johnson aims for a “Marshall Plan” to help developing countries decarbonize their economies, according to the Times, like the massive American funding for European reconstruction after World War II.
In May, the G7 environment ministers pledged to stop public aid to coal-fired power plants this year, also promising “ambitious and accelerated efforts” to reduce their CO2 emissions.
Ahead of the summit’s launch, Boris Johnson and Joe Biden on Thursday displayed a united front on the climate emergency, approving a new “Atlantic Charter” which also stresses the need to deal with cyber attacks. Boris Johnson called the relationship between London and Washington “indestructible”.
If the two close allies are in phase on major international issues, such as the challenges posed by China or Russia, which will also be discussed at the G7, tensions persist over Northern Ireland, at the heart of a post dispute. -Brexit between UK and EU.
If Joe Biden has refrained from any public criticism, European leaders intend to remind Boris Johnson of their attachment to the signed agreements, which London wants to question in the face of the anger in the British province. According to local police, 3,000 people demonstrated in Belfast on Thursday evening against the new post-Brexit arrangements.