07.06.2021 – 15:36
The G7, an exclusive club that includes the world’s largest “advanced economies”, began life in 1975 as the Sixth Group, was renamed the Seventh Group when Canada joined in 1976, became the Eighth Group when Russia was added in 1997 and then became seven again in 2014 when Russia was expelled.
In the world of 2021, it seems a bit of an anachronism, however much is expected.
Boris Johnson, who will host this year’s three-day summit in Cornwall, hailed it as a “historic moment for the planet”. For the prime minister, it is a golden opportunity to showcase “Global Britain” and to demonstrate how, in his myopic view, the “break-up” with the EU has given the country a new lease of life as an “international force” for internationalism.
Another anachronistic aspect of this event, which will be attended by the leaders of the US, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and Canada, is the lack of a country that, by most estimates, will soon be the largest economy by all: China.
The problem, too, is the fact that these seven countries, which represent only one-tenth of the world’s population, control 40% of global GDP.
It is little wonder that many in the developing world see calmly what they see as a click of a rich man who assumes he directs international affairs on the basis of an outdated global order created decades ago.
No wonder the usefulness of the G7 is questioned.
Johnson set some very difficult goals for the summit: leading the global post-pandemic recovery, tackling climate change, promoting free trade and “protecting our common values.”
Sounds good. However, civil society groups say the agenda is not ambitious enough, for example, in addressing gender and racial equality.
Britain will announce plans to donate doses of vaccines to countries in need.
But this goodwill statement leaves unanswered key questions about resources, availability and patent allocation at a time when the international Covax scheme cannot provide equal access to vaccines for all.
A commitment to building a global health system to counter future threats is another good aspiration, but one that will be difficult to deliver and fund.
Johnson says he wants the summit to focus on “creating a greener, more prosperous future” and urge other leaders to align with the UK’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 78% by 2035.
More is urgently needed.
Rich countries have a bad history of helping poor countries fight climate change – and are still investing more in fossil fuels than in clean energy.
The US and UK are the only two G7 countries that have made proposals in recent months to increase climate funding to help poor countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of extreme weather, according to a new report.
A 2009 pledge to provide $ 100 billion a year for developing countries by 2020 has not been kept, researchers say.
Changes to the international tax rules governing multinationals are welcome.
But there will be skepticism about other well-known goals of the G7, such as increasing the total number of children in full-time education.
Promoting multilateralism and common democratic values in opposition to China, Russia and similar authoritarian regimes is a rather difficult task without obvious personal goals.
Translated and adapted by The Guardian / konica.al