The G7 summit concluded with pledges from world leaders to take urgent action on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate, and possibly China.
The world’s leading democracies, in a 25-page statement, committed to ending the pandemic and preparing for the future, as well as supporting the Green Revolution as they propelled their economies toward recovery.
On the China issue, other than taking a hard line on respect for human rights, the language was emphatically remarkable and unexpected, given the discourse before and during the assembly in the English seaside community of Carbis Bay.
There is a hint of giving the developing world a safe and affordable alternative to Chinese financing infrastructure, but it doesn’t sound as robust as the US would have wanted it to.
The G7 leaders also pledged to share more coronavirus vaccines with countries in need over the next year — up to two billion doses including contributions made since February 2021, said the closing statement on Sunday.
Canada’s quota is 100 million doses, a target the Liberal government indicated at the start of the three-day summit.
13 million doses of planned surplus
The Prime Minister’s Office finally announced the specifics of the pledge on Sunday. Much of the goal – 87 million doses – has already been pushed forward by the ACT-Accelerator, a global collaborative effort to develop and share COVID-19 vaccines.
Canada will donate an additional 13 million doses of the planned oversupply.
Most of them (7.3 million doses) will be the Novavax vaccine, which has not yet been approved by Health Canada. There will be 4.3 million doses from AstraZeneca-Oxford supply and 1.3 million from Johnson & Johnson Stream.
“I want to be clear,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “This global commitment on vaccines is in addition to and parallel to the rollout of the vaccine at home. We have millions of doses delivered into the country every week, and every day more and more people are getting their first and second vaccinations.”
The World Health Organization warned on Saturday it urgently needed 100 million doses immediately to meet global demand, and urged G7 nations to help immunize 70 percent of the world’s population – requiring nearly 11 billion doses – by this time next year. .
At least one humanitarian group initially praised the initiative, which has been pressing the Liberal government to take action.
“We are cautiously optimistic about Canada’s G7 commitments to share surplus vaccines with low-income countries.” says Michael Messenger, president of World Vision Canada.
“But we’re concerned that this is too little, too late – especially if this money isn’t new and the vaccines don’t start moving immediately.”
Trudeau hasn’t said when specifically vaccines will start moving, nor will he give his full support behind removing patent protection, which is seen as key to increasing supply.
A Western alternative to China’s “Belt and Road” initiative
Separately, the Prime Minister announced a doubling of Canada’s contribution to climate finance from $2.65 billion to $5.3 billion.
The money will be spent over five years and will include increased support for climate adaptation.
He said the funding will help developing countries build domestic capacities to take climate action, build resilience, and reduce pollution.
China was mentioned in the closing statement on several occasions, but the language was largely neutral, reflecting a split among G7 leaders over how to deal with an economically more assertive and sometimes politically aggressive Beijing.
G7 leaders agreed on plans to shift financing for infrastructure projects in developing countries.
Dubbed the “Building Back Better for the World” plan, it calls on them to develop high-quality financing for critical infrastructure, from railways in Africa to wind farms in Asia.
However, the details of how it will be funded have yet to be agreed.