Correcting disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations between developing, developed world a key issue for G7 summit

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Expanding assistance to poorer nations will be a key item on the agenda of the upcoming G7 summit, as serious disparities remain between developed and developing countries with regard to vaccinations against COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organization, only 0.4% of the 1.8 billion doses of vaccine administered so far around the world have been given in low-income countries. If infections continue to spread in these areas, it could lead to the emergence of mutated viruses that are more resistant to vaccines.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that inequity in vaccinations is a threat to all countries.

The main issues are how to increase the amount of vaccines provided through COVAX, the international framework for vaccine distribution; how to deliver it promptly to developing countries; and how to secure funding. The G7’s leadership will be tested on this matter.

In preparation for future pandemics, the G7 summit is also expected to discuss the creation of a system to quickly share information on infectious diseases and viruses.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Climate change

Climate change is a key issue for Britain, which holds the G7 presidency. In late May, the G7 held its first ministerial meeting on climate matters, and compiled a communique in which each of the G7 nations pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In the communique, coal power generation was pinpointed as “the single biggest cause of global temperature increases,” and it was agreed that public support for its export should be abolished, in principle.

However, the communique also included Japan’s insistence that exceptions be made when measures are taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Britain, which advocates early abolition, was said to be dissatisfied with the exceptions.

With the 26th U.N. climate change conference, or COP26, coming up in November, the question will be whether the developed countries can unite at the G7 summit. Another important issue will be how to involve China, which accounts for about 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions.

Emphasis on Indo-Pacific

Britain left the European Union last year. For British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been criticized for prioritizing Britain’s own interests over those of Europe, the G7 summit will be an opportunity to demonstrate Britain’s presence.

Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa have been invited as guests to the G7 meeting. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate online.

This is an indication of the British government’s intention to emphasize the Indo-Pacific region in its economic, foreign and security policies. Britain and other democracies have positioned the G7 and Australia, India and South Korea as the “D10.” Some believe this summit will serve to establish this expanded framework.

With its shared values such as respect for the rule of law, the G7 is more and more at odds with authoritarian China and Russia in an increasingly multipolar world.

The G7 is expected to confirm the importance of upholding rules-based order and demonstrate the unity of the democratic camp.

Biden has timed his first trip out of the United States since taking office in January to coincide with the G7 summit.

Trump was notable for his disregard for the G7, calling it outdated. Biden will be urged to demonstrate that the United States is once again leading the framework of international cooperation.