CARBIS BAY, England (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the Group of Seven wealthy nations have pledged over 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses for poorer nations.
Speaking at the end of a G-7 leaders’ summit in southwest England on Sunday, Johnson said the doses would come both directly and through the international COVAX program.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other public health officials commended the vaccine pledge but said it’s not enough. To truly end the pandemic, he said, 11 billion doses are needed to vaccinate at least 70% of the world’s population by mid-2022.
“We need more and we need them faster,” Tedros said.
The Group of Seven leaders are expected to make other commitments after their three-day summit, which Johnson hosted.
The G-7 nations are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Climate change is a key focus of the leaders’ final day of talks on Sunday, and the group is expected to announce new financing measures to help poorer countries reduce carbon emissions.
The “Build Back Better for the World” plan will promise to offer financing for infrastructure — “from railways in Africa to wind farms in Asia” — to help speed up the global shift to renewable energy. The plan is a response to China’s “belt and road” initiative, which has increased Beijing’s worldwide influence.
Climate activists and analysts say filling a $100 billion annual fund to help poor countries tackle the effects of global warming should be at the top of the G-7?s list.
All G-7 countries have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but many environmentalists say that will be too little, too late.
Naturalist David Attenborough addressed the leaders by video Sunday, warning that humanity is “on the verge of destabilizing the entire planet.”
“If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade — in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations — are the most important in human history,” the veteran documentary filmmaker said.
Max Lawson, head of inequality policy for Oxfam International, welcomed plans to boost investment to help poor countries reduce their carbon footprints but said “it doesn’t help the poor people that are being hit by climate change right now.”
“So, yes, it’s probably a good thing but is it enough? Absolutely not,” he said.
Large crowds of surfers and kayakers took to the sea in a mass protest Saturday to urge better protections for the world’s oceans, while thousands beat drums as they marched outside the summit’s media center in Falmouth.
“G-7 is all greenwashing,” the protesters sang. “We’re drowning in promises, now’s the time to act.”
White House officials also said Biden wants the G-7 leaders to speak in a single voice against the forced labor practices targeting China’s Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities. Biden hopes the denunciation will be part of a joint statement Sunday, but some European allies are reluctant to split so forcefully with Beijing.
Canada, Britain and France largely endorsed Biden’s position on China, while Germany, Italy and the European Union showed more hesitancy, according to two senior Biden administration officials.
The leaders’ final communique is also expected to formally embrace placing a global minimum tax of at least 15% on large multinational companies to stop corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes.
The minimum rate was championed by the U.S., and dovetails with the aim of Biden — and Johnson — to focus the summit on ways the democracies can collaborate to build a more inclusive, fair global economy and to compete with rising autocracies like China.
Non-G-7 nations India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa were invited to attend as guests to bolster the group’s support for fellow democracies.
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