/ 11 June 2021

Morrison hits the big time as the G7 cranks up

The G7 leaders summit kicks off today in the UK, with PM Scott Morrison tagging along. The Group of 7 wealthy nations – the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Japan, plus some extras – will meet for 3 days in Cornwall. It’s their first get-together in 2 years after the 2020 meeting, which was meant to be hosted by former US President Donald Trump, was cancelled because, well, COVID. And a lot has changed since 2019…

There’s no need to guess – a leaked draft communiqué has provided the deets:

• Leaders will call for a new look into the origins of the coronavirus. US President Joe Biden is driving this. And host leader UK PM Boris Johnson will urge G7 nations to commit to delivering a billion extra COVID vaccine doses to developing countries over the next year.

• China has previously warned the G7 not to meddle in its affairs, but confronting Beijing’s strategic ambitions will be front and centre. In a clear swipe at China’s leadership, European Union leaders, the US, Canada, Japan and the UK will commit to taking action to combat the alleged use of forced labour of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

• And on climate change, there are commitments to shift to zero-emission vehicles and stop the direct funding of coal-fired power stations in poorer nations by the end of the year. That’s on top of an agreement last month to revise targets – a move praised by activists.

To start with, it’s kind of a thing that we’re invited. This year’s G7 summit has been expanded to include Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea, giving Morrison a seat at the big table alongside the world’s most powerful democracies. There, he will have his first in-person chats with President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. And there’s a free trade deal to be done with UK PM Boris Johnson, fingers crossed. But it’s unlikely to go all Morrison’s way… His government’s reluctance to set more ambitious climate commitments could be challenged this weekend. Bring on the socially distanced leaders’ picture

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