Analysts found the decisions of G7 leaders in the fight against climate change and COVID-19 as insufficient and short-sighted because they fail to commit to concrete plans or a date to end coal usage, which is regarded as the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions.
The UK hosted the leaders of the world’s richest nations for the first face-to-face G7 summit since 2019. The summit was held in Cornwall, in southwest England between June 11 and 13.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel.
After the summit, the leaders' communiqué announced its commitment to providing one billion vaccine doses to countries in need over the next year. It also covered their support of a "green revolution" to create jobs, emission cuts and their aim to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"We commit to net zero no later than 2050, halving our collective emissions over the two decades to 2030, increasing and improving climate finance to 2025 and to conserve or protect at least 30 percent of our land and oceans by 2030. We acknowledge our duty to safeguard the planet for future generations," the communiqué read.
The leaders also agreed on accelerating the transition away from coal capacity consistent with net-zero commitments. They also committed to an end to new direct government support for unabated thermal coal power generation by the end of this year, in recognition of the view that coal is the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions, which is incompatible with keeping the global temperature rise within reach of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The decision to end public support for coal left China isolated as the world's biggest public backer of coal.
However, Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace in evaluating the summit results was scathing of the agreements made.
"Everyone is being hit by COVID-19 and worsening climate impacts, but it is the most vulnerable who are fairing the worst due to G7 leaders sleeping on the job. We need authentic leadership and that means treating the pandemic and the climate crisis for what they are; an interconnected inequality emergency," Morgan said.
She was very critical of the G7 in its failure to prepare for a successful 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, commenting that trust is sorely lacking between rich and developing countries.
- Communiqué lacks details and concrete plans
Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action International, defined the decisions as "unforgivable, short-sighted and selfish".
"The outcomes from the G7 Summit simply do not measure up to address the twin global crises the world faces which are a historic pandemic that has taken four million lives and threatens billions more, particularly unvaccinated populations in the global south and increasingly devastating climate impacts and loss and damage tied to a destructive dependence on fossil fuels, including oil and gas," she said.
She urged the richest nations to agree to remove patents on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments by implementing a plan to provide resources and technology to ramp up vaccine manufacturing.
"Donating vaccine doses, however good the intention does not constitute an efficient, equitable, or rapid path to end this pandemic," Essop warned.
The G7 also reaffirmed the collective developed country goal to mobilize $100 billion per year from public and private sources through to 2025 in the context of meaningful mitigation action and transparency on implementation.
"The promised $100 billion a decade ago is the minimum of what is needed to build trust before COP26 and meet past obligations. Rich countries must go beyond reiterating existing obligations and put new and additional finance on the table. The $100 billion is not a one-off payment," she said. "It is a continuing annual commitment as agreed to in the Paris Agreement for rich countries to do their fair share and mobilize finance in the trillions if we are to keep warming to 1.5°C within this decade."
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow between Nov. 1 and 12 this year.
Former UN Climate Envoy and Dean of Tufts Fletcher School, Rachel Kyte, said although the deal looks good, it lacks the necessary details.
"Details matter especially in a low trust environment. Now the G7 members have to use every other moment this year to deliver the detail that makes the scale of support for others possible to secure breakthroughs at COP26," Kyte said.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya