G7 Summit: What must leaders do to save our rapidly warming planet?


Protesters dressed as Pikachus, a Mount Rushmore-inspired sculpture made entirely of e-waste and an army of hand-knitted Cornish pies. These are just a few of the shows awaiting world leaders as they arrive in Cornwall for the G7 summit this weekend.

These are just a handful of protests aimed at drawing attention to the rapidly worsening climatic and natural crises around the world. The Pokemon protest aims to highlight Japan’s continued support for coal power, the sculpture is a symbol of the rise of electronic waste, while the pies each come with a hand-written message on the theme of the paste on the need to take urgent environmental action. “The earth’s crust is burning,” says one of them. “An almost mushy point of no return,” said another.

The climate crisis will be one of the main talking points at the three-day summit, which will see the UK host the other G7 countries – the US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada – for the first face-to-face gathering of leaders since the start of the pandemic. Australia, South Korea and South Africa are other major nations invited to participate as guests.

The meeting comes in the middle of a year seen as crucial in getting the world on track to meet its climate goals and finally take action to stem the loss of nature. The hottest six years on record have all occurred since 2015, and 2021 is set to continue the race. More species are threatened with extinction today than at any time in human history.

“Earth’s crust is burning”: XR supporter Sarah White surrounded by knitted pasties

(Neil Scott)

In addition to hosting the G7 meeting, the UK is also leading a major global climate conference, known as Cop26, to be held in Glasgow in November. The Cop26 is seen by many as the world’s last big chance to get on track to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, the aspiration set by countries in the world. framework of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Progress at this weekend’s meeting will be critical to ensuring the success of the conference.

“The G7 cannot be another goal setting exercise that only ends up in wasted time, political punches and more empty promises,” said Ariana Densham, senior climate activist at Greenpeace UK.

“We need bold commitments, but they also need to be met urgently. World leaders have the power to deal with the growing but interconnected crises we face, but only if they act now. “

One of the main topics of discussion should be the need for rich countries to keep their long-standing promises to provide developing countries with the funds necessary to both cope with and adapt to rapidly increasing emissions.

In 2009, high-income countries pledged to provide the poorest countries with $ 100 billion (£ 73 billion) per year by 2020 to help them tackle the climate crisis. But recent data shows that this goal is still far from being achieved.

“This funding must be found,” former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said at a press briefing on Thursday ahead of the G7 meeting.

“There will be a problem if we don’t get an agreement that climate finance will be provided before Cop26. “

Rumors have it that Boris Johnson will use the event to convince G7 leaders to agree to a ‘Marshall Plan’ on the climate crisis – a major new effort to support developing countries in the transition from fossil fuel use , inspired by the American plan that helped rebuild European economies after World War II.

“The credibility of the plan depends on three things,” said Nick Mabey, executive director of E3G, a European climate think tank.

“First, a strong pool of capital that will be able to push investments in developing countries from billions to trillions. Without funding, the initiative risks becoming another paper tiger.

“Second, a principled initiative that is clear on its promotion of zero net, resilient development and a strong emphasis on transparency, anti-corruption and human rights.

“Third, the opening of the initiative to any country wishing to embark on the path of green and clean development, as well as the opening to any non-G7 member country to join the initiative if it adheres to its principles. “

However, many experts have warned that the UK’s efforts to run a climate finance campaign for developing countries risked being undermined by a decision to temporarily cut its foreign aid budget from 0.7 to 0, 5% of national income.

The move will not directly affect its spending on climate finance, but a range of politicians, NGOs and activists have warned the move could put the UK on the back burner as it tries to rally action in ‘other countries.

“As African women imagine what it makes us think of the UK as a model of fair play as we face crises together,” said Nita Deerpalsing, communications director of the United Nations Economic Commission. United for Africa, on the decision at a briefing on Thursday.


About Emilie Brandow

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