For their first summit in almost two years, top power leaders gathered around Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, before they began detailed discussions on recovery after the pandemic and the challenges posed by Russia and China.
The meeting, to be held by Sunday in Carbis Bay, in the south-west of England, must primarily focus on vaccine sharing and climate emergencies, as well as show a united front between allies in favor of Joe Biden’s first trip abroad after Trump’s turbulent years.
The first day in particular provided an opportunity for the leaders of the G7 members (Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the United States) to show satisfaction that they are meeting again after months of videoconferencing due to the health situation. They first posed together for a family photo in front of the sandy Cornish Beach, before the first roundtable.
They were then received by the royal family, around Elizabeth II with heirs Charles and William and their wives, under the greenhouses of the “Eden Project,” a biodiversity exhibition garden. After the reception, the 95-year-old sovereign, who lost her husband Philip in early April, took part in a new group photo.
“Should we act like we’re having a good time?” ironically launched the Queen who receives Joe Biden on Sunday at Windsor Castle.
After greeting his colleagues earlier with an elbow, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted on the importance of this summit, which should make it possible to “learn lessons from the pandemic” and “rebuild better”, “greener” and “fairer” ways.
– faster vaccines –
The official program of the summit includes primarily a pandemic and the recovery of a sluggish global economy.
Leaders will sign the “Carbis Bay Declaration” on Saturday, which Downing Street described as “historic”, a series of commitments to prevent further pandemics, such as shortened deadlines for vaccine development.
They must commit to a fairer exchange of Covid vaccines by rich countries, which have monopolized maximum doses to the detriment of the poorest.
Faced with a multiplication of calls for solidarity, leaders must promise a billion doses to eradicate the pandemic by 2022, including 500 million from the United States and 100 million from the British.
It’s “too slow,” British David Nabarro of the World Health Organization (WHO) complained to Times Radio, echoing criticism from NGOs. The latter are calling for stronger actions, such as the abolition of patents on vaccines to enable mass production.
“It is in everyone’s interest to be vaccinated, the sooner the better,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying vaccines should be seen as a “global public good” and advocating increased production capacity.
In an interview with AFP, European Medicines Agency (EMA) director Emer Cooke called on “the whole world” to have access to vaccines.
– Climate emergencies –
Another priority is the climate emergency ahead of the major UN climate conference (COP26) scheduled for November in Scotland.
Boris Johnson is striving for a “green industrial revolution,” with the goal 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 then.
The Club of Seven is also expected to promote green infrastructure investments in developing countries to stimulate and decarbonise their economies.
Despite the unity shown, European leaders intend to remind Boris Johnson of his commitment to the Brexit agreements on Northern Ireland, which London wants to examine in the face of anger in the British province, during a tête-à- tête on Saturday.
A spokesman for Boris Johnson stressed that the leader did not necessarily seek a solution in the G7, but would remind them of the “challenges” posed by Northern Ireland protocol.