G7 vows action on Covid vaccines, climate change

Published June 14, 2021
US President Joe Biden takes part in a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit at Cornwall Airport Newquay, near Newquay, Cornwall on June 13. - AFP
US President Joe Biden takes part in a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit at Cornwall Airport Newquay, near Newquay, Cornwall on June 13. - AFP

CARBIS BAY: G7 leaders on Sunday vowed to start delivering one billion doses of Covid vaccines and to step up action on climate change, in a US-led summit’s call to arms that also took on China and Russia.

In a final communique issued at their first physical summit in nearly two years, the leaders of the elite club largely hewed to US President Joe Biden’s push to regain the West’s cohesion after Donald Trump’s tumultuous tenure.

“We will harness the power of democracy, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights to answer the biggest questions and overcome the greatest challenges,” Biden and his colleagues from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan said.

At a G7 news conference before he headed on to a Nato summit and showdown talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden said his fellow leaders agreed “America is back at the table and fully engaged”.

Biden says US is back at the table as he rallies allies against China and Russia

Nato’s mutual defence was a “sacred obligation” for the United States, he added, arguing that democracies were in a “contest with autocracies” while insisting that Washington was not seeking “conflict” with Beijing or Moscow.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the summit in southwest England, had described Biden as a “big breath of fresh air” and told reporters on Sunday that the G7 stood united anew in its “democratic values”.

Angela Merkel, attending her last G7 as German chancellor, meanwhile said Biden had brought “new momentum” to resolving the world’s problems at the three-day summit. But the pledge on vaccines for poorer nations fell far short of the 11 billion doses that campaigners say are needed to end a pandemic that has claimed nearly four million lives and wrecked economies around the globe.

Likewise, the G7’s pledges to deliver more aid for countries at the sharp end of climate change, and to phase out fossil fuel investments, were decried as too little, too late ahead of a UN summit in November.

India and South Africa, who took part in the G7 talks as guests, had pressed for the gathering to waive intellectual property rights on Western vaccines.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

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