CARBIS BAY | Leaders of the great powers of the G7 displayed a united front on Friday, at the start of their summit in England, to work to put the world back on its feet after the pandemic, by sharing, to begin with, a billion anti-COVID vaccines.
Pandemic obliges, the heads of state and government nudged each other and stood at a distance for the traditional family photo, on the beach of the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay, in Cornwall.
This meeting, which must take place until Sunday, the first in person in almost two years, allows the return of work meetings, but also discreet asides to move forward on the crises of the moment.
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“This is a meeting that really needs to be held, because we have to make sure we learn the lessons of the pandemic and not repeat some mistakes,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He hailed an “extraordinary opportunity” for the great powers to “learn the lessons of the pandemic” and “to build back better”, in a “greener” and “fairer” way.
Joe Biden had already set the tone, signaling that the summit marked the “return” of the United States on the international scene after the isolationist years of Donald Trump. “I look forward to strengthening our commitment to multilateralism and working with our allies and partners to build a more just and inclusive world economy,” the US president said on Twitter.
It seeks to rally a united front among its partners against Russia and China, which has already criticized the American desire to form “cliques”.
After the roundtable and a commitment to the education of girls, and before tasting gazpacho, roasted turbot and British strawberry pavlova between them, the leaders of the club of the rich were to meet around Queen Elizabeth II and the crown prince. Charles for a reception at the Eden Project, huge greenhouses in Cornwall, showcases of the planet’s plant diversity.
On the official program of the summit are above all the recovery of a global economy stricken by the pandemic and the more equitable sharing of anti-COVID vaccines by the 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” with the goal of “ending the pandemic in 2022”, according to Downing Street.
The United States has already pledged to donate 500 million doses, and the British 100 million, mainly through the Covax sharing device.
Largely insufficient, deplore NGOs which advocate the suspension of patents on vaccines in order to allow mass production.
Another priority is the climate emergency before the major UN climate conference (COP26), scheduled for November in Scotland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson aims for a “green industrial revolution”, with the aim of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
To preserve biodiversity, he wants the G7 to commit to protecting “at least 30%” of land and oceans by this deadline.
The club of seven should also promote investment in green infrastructure in developing countries to stimulate and decarbonize their economy.
Before the summit’s launch, Boris Johnson and Joe Biden on Thursday displayed a united front on the climate emergency, approving a new “Atlantic Charter” celebrating the historic alliance between their countries.
They had put aside, in public, the tensions over Northern Ireland, at the heart of a post-Brexit dispute between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
European leaders, for their part, 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, during a tête-à-tête on Saturday. According to local police, 3,000 people demonstrated in Belfast on Thursday evening against the new post-Brexit arrangements.
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson stressed that the leader was not necessarily seeking a solution at the G7, but that he would remind them of the “challenges” presented by the Northern Irish protocol.