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G7 to agree climate, conservation targets as summit ends

The gathering in Cornwall in southwestern England has been the first opportunity for G7 leaders to meet in person in two years

G7 leaders on Sunday will back new conservation and emission targets to curb climate change, and finalise collective action on several other fronts, as they wrap up a three-day summit aimed at showcasing revived Western unity.

The group of leading economies, holding their first in-person gathering in nearly two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, will agree to protect at least 30 percent of both land and ocean globally by the end of the decade.

It includes mandating the use of only so-called clean coal for power “as soon as possible”, ending most government support for the fossil fuel sector overseas and phasing out petrol and diesel cars.

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“There is a direct relationship between reducing emissions, restoring nature, creating jobs and ensuring long-term economic growth,” he added, in remarks released ahead of the summit’s conclusion.

But before the pledges had even been formally adopted, environmental campaigners blasted them as lacking enforcement and the necessary scope.

He also noted wealthy nations had a “dismal track record” over the last decade honouring international climate finance commitments.

The G7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and United States — were eager to hold their first physical summit since August 2019 to renew ties after the discord of Donald Trump’s four years in power.

The UK government turned to its royals to add a dash of grandeur to the G7 detente, with Queen Elizabeth II and her son Prince Charles hosting a Friday night reception with G7 leaders and European Union chiefs also attending.

Despite the lighter moments, the summit was largely consumed with the tough task of forging a more comprehensive response to the pandemic.

However, there they also faced pushback, with critics arguing it provides just a fraction of what is needed to inoculate the world against the virus, which has claimed nearly four million lives globally and is still spawning new variants.

The allies also unveiled US-led plans to counter China in infrastructure funding for poorer nations, promising to “collectively catalyse” hundreds of billions of investment.

The leaders will publish further details on the B3W in the traditional end-of-summit communique, alongside issuing the Carbis Bay Declaration on health policy.

Washington is pushing for a stronger stance on China’s alleged forced labour practices against its Muslim Uyghur minority.

Most of those present will reconvene Monday in Brussels for a NATO meeting, before Biden heads on to his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, vowing to deliver a blunt message about Russian behaviour.

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