The G7 summit 2021: Will this alliance of the rich and new allies solve our current crises?

11 June 2021 by Dorothy Guerrero

Photo: Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street

The heads of states of the Group of 7 (G7), which includes the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy, will have its annual summit this year at Carbis Bay, near St. Ives in Cornwall and hosted by the UK government. The grouping is not an executive body, but rather an alliance of states that use their annual discussion forum to grasp the complexity of the current global situation and present a united understanding of how to solve current problems.

The summit is the first in a series of intergovernmental talks to discuss global recovery from Covid-19 and climate change, the two most pressing challenges that the world faces this decade. It will greatly influence the discussions in the G20 conference in October in Rome and the multilateral climate negotiations at COP26 in November in Glasgow. It will be the first in-person summit of leaders after Covid-19 restrictions on high profile events and international travel. It will be the first to be attended by US president Joe Biden.

The main talks in the summit will be on Covid recovery, building a stronger global health system to protect the world from future pandemics, climate change and trade. Boris Johnson has invited leaders from Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to attend as guest countries to expand the expertise and experience in the meeting. Altogether, the 11 leaders at the table represent countries that together comprise over 60% of the world population.

The alliance of the rich
From its inception in the 1970s, the grouping was set up to present a cold war unity of Western countries, which at that time played a dominant role in the global economy. Samir Amin once called the grouping “shared imperialism” in his writings. Now, the former political and economic power of the G7 has been significantly reduced, as the seven nations’ combined GDP is down to 40% of the world total. Importantly, the rise of China has also changed the global configuration of power and influence.

Biden’s hosting of a climate summit in April indicated the US’s interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. in showing the world that countries could look up to US leadership in problem solving once again after five years of Trump’s presidency which combined US insularity with simultaneously ramping up the US as the bully of the world.

The problems and conflicts the world is facing are deep and the gap between the developing world and the rich countries is enormous. The countries that are now experiencing the severe impacts of climate change are the same countries that are not yet seeing the light at the end of the long, dark pandemic tunnel and will most likely suffer from long-term economic impacts from Covid-19. The G7 leaders and guests are presenting themselves as the new alliance that could address both social inequalities in their meeting this weekend.

Power and responsibilities to address planetary injustice
So much of what will be discussed at the G7 in terms of addressing global challenges will be meaningless when people in developing countries are still waiting for their access to life-saving vaccines. According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, which Global Justice Now is a member of, 8 people per minute have died from Covid-19 since the last virtual summit of the G7 leaders on 19 February this year.

A solution to stop such massive numbers of avoidable deaths is to protect everyone through vaccination. But there is an enforced scarcity of life-saving vaccines because of the monopoly by transnational pharmaceutical corporations, or Big Pharma, which are keeping their patents to deny other manufacturers from producing them. There are many qualified companies that are capable of producing the vaccines but are unable to because of Big Pharma monopolies.

UK and European leaders are still obstructing a waiver of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, requested by India and South Africa. The proposal is supported by around 100 countries of the global south and partially backed by US president Joe Biden. With the majority of G7 countries still blocking the TRIPS waiver, these powerful countries are still wilfully leaving the decision to pharmaceutical corporations to decide who lives and who dies.

Pledging surplus doses of their vaccines or funding to Covax, the World Health Organization’s initiative to counter vaccine nationalism and transfer vaccines to 97 nations in need, will never be enough. In fact, it has already failed and delivered less than a third of the doses needed to supply 20% of the population in those target countries. After all the public money that went into vaccine development, making and distributing them has been left almost entirely up to the market. At the rate production and distribution is currently happening, nations in the global south would have to wait an astonishing 57 years before they reach the same level of widespread vaccination as G7 countries have.

Climate change and pandemics
The richest one percent of humanity have emitted twice as much as the poorest half and after 25 Conference of Parties, or climate negotiations, we know that the world is getting closer and quicker to climate tipping points. Like coronavirus, the operations of fossil fuels companies also kill multitudes. To gain excessive profits, the climate-frying operations of extractivist companies are systematically destroying lives, livelihoods and communities, especially of people of colour and where they live first and foremost.

According to a report from some of the world’s leading scientists, the world is now in an “era of pandemics” and as long as profits accumulated from the destruction of the natural world are not halted, pandemics will emerge more often and with more dangerous impacts. Covid-19, bird flu and the HIV viruses from animals were caused by clearing of formerly wild areas for farming, mining and trade. Similar to the attitude of rich countries’ refusal or delay of appropriate actions to tackle climate change, the results of refusal or delaying appropriate actions on tackling Covid-19 are massive deaths.

In their recent press release, the heads of the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
, the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

, World Trade Organization, and World Health Organization strongly called for a $50 billion investment to end the pandemic and secure a global recovery. Can we hope that the response from the same governments that continue to fail in their targets and climate finance commitments would be better?

Other articles in English by Dorothy Guerrero (5)



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