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Reactions to G7 summit outcome mixed

2017-06-06

Source: Xinhua    Published: 2017-5-28

 

Reactions were mixed to a final statement by Group of Seven (G7) leaders at the close of their two-day summit in the Italian town of Taormina on Saturday.


Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan plus the European Union (EU) found common ground with the United States on counter-terrorism and trade but failed to do so on climate change.


This outcome has triggered divided reactions.


The 43rd summit of industrialized nations was "a substantial success," according to Professor John J. Kirton, who directs the G7 Research Group at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.


"The G7 leaders delivered... useful steps forward on a broad range of sustainable development and economic fronts," said Kirton, a political science professor and a non-resident senior fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at China`s Renmin University.


"On climate change, (the G7) wisely framed the issue as one of energy security, pointing out that clean technology could bring the growth and the jobs that Trump so badly wants at home," Kirton told Xinhua.


Another "unexpected advance," said Kirton, is that the G7 as a whole, including Trump, agreed that a "key part of the new climate change bargain" is the continued flow of financial and technological support from the established to the emerging and developing world.


Another novelty, said Kirton, is that the final G7 document dedicates four paragraphs to trade and the need to combat protectionism.


"I think the U.S. is slowly realizing that ... its economy depends critically on open trade in a world of integrated supply chains," Kirton explained. "You simply can`t stop the imports from Canada next door without having the whole U.S. economy collapse in a few days."


For example, the automotive industries of Canada and the U.S. have been fully integrated for close to half a century, while Mexico joined in 1994 by signing onto the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).


"Donald Trump`s view of the American economy is one with Detroit and cars at the center as if it were still 1950," Kirton said. "But you can`t make those cars anymore unless you have Canadian and Mexican parts."


Leading environmentalist organizations were happy that Canada, Europe and Japan said they would stick to the Paris Agreement to curb climate change, with or without the U.S.


The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said the fact that all the leaders except Trump committed to delivering on climate change is "heartening."


"Their commitment to support developing countries, including with financial support, is critical to ensuring we keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF`s global Climate & Energy Practice.


Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said that "the G7 outcome confirms that the energy transition (to clean energy) is unstoppable."


Humanitarian organizations, however, are disappointed, and place the blame squarely on Trump.


"The summit marked a new negative record," according to advocacy organization ONE, which has 8 million members and is very active in Africa.


The summit`s initial promise was derailed by "the hostile negotiating position of the Trump administration," according to ONE Security and Development Director, Friederike Roder. "The G7 leaders failed to commit to concrete investments to combat famine or extreme poverty."


"Consensus crumbles at the expense of the world`s poorest," Oxfam NGO echoed in agreement.


"President Trump, more than anyone else, has taken on the role of spoiler-in-chief, blocking agreement on many of the key concerns that affect millions of the world`s poorest people," commented Oxfam Italy Executive Director Roberto Barbieri.


About 20 million people are on the brink of famine across four African countries, and the G7 "have not done nearly enough" for them, he said.


Barbieri called the G7`s failure to back Italy`s proposed Taormina initiative on food security "a calamity."


All the civil society organizations concurred that G7 leaders must take the battle to curb climate change and forge long-term policies to eradicate poverty and hunger to the next Group of Twenty (G20) summit, to be held July 7-8 in the German city of Hamburg.

 

John Kirton is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

Key Words: G7   climate change   US  

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