Group of Seven leaders called for a transparent, science-based study, including in China, into the origins of COVID-19, to be convened by the World Health Organization, a draft communique showed.
“We also call for a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China,” the communique, which is almost finalised, said.
They also called on China to respect human rights in its Xinjiang region and allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, according to an almost finalised version of the G7 summit communique.
“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law,” the G7 said.
The G7 underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”
“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions.”
G7 leaders will commit on Sunday to increase their climate finance contributions to meet an overdue spending pledge of $100 billion a year to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming.
As part of plans billed as helping speed the finance of infrastructure projects in developing countries and a shift to renewable and sustainable technology, the world’s seven most advanced economies will again pledge to meet the target.
At the G7 summit in southwestern England, there was a clear push by the leaders to try to counter China’s increasing influence in the world, particularly in developing nations.
They signalled their desire to build a rival to Beijing’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative but the details were few and far between.
Some green groups were unimpressed with the climate pledges, with Greenpeace UK saying host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had “simply reheated old promises” and that it would take “nothing for granted” until nations came up with the money.
“Protecting our planet is the most important thing we as leaders can do for our people,” Johnson said in a statement.
“As democratic nations we have a responsibility to help developing countries reap the benefits of clean growth through a fair and transparent system. The G7 has an unprecedented opportunity to drive a global Green Industrial Revolution, with the potential to transform the way we live.”
It gave no details of or numbers for the new commitments.
A spokesman for Johnson confirmed that all the G7 nations would up their contributions and said he expected the individual nations to set out the size of the increases “in due course”.
Developed countries agreed at the United Nations in 2009 to together contribute $100 billion each year by 2020 in climate finance to poorer countries, many of whom are grappling with rising seas, storms and droughts made worse by climate change.
That target was not met, derailed in part by the coronavirus pandemic which forced the British government to postpone the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) until this year.
G7 leaders are also expected to set out action to cut carbon emissions, including measures such as ending almost all direct government support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas and phasing out petrol and diesel cars.
“The natural world today is greatly diminished. That is undeniable. Our climate is warming fast. That is beyond doubt. Our societies and nations are unequal and that is sadly is plain to see,” said British naturalist David Attenborough, the people’s advocate for COP26.
Attenborough will address leaders via video message on Sunday.
He said the question for 2021 was whether the world was on the verge of destabilising the planet. “If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade – in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations – are the most important in human history.”
Greenpeace UK’s executive director, John Sauven, described the track record of rich nations in honouring their commitments as “dismal” and Johnson of failing to take “real action to tackle the climate and nature emergency”.
“While commitments to provide more support to developing nations are absolutely vital, until they cough up the cash, we’re taking nothing for granted,” he said in a statement.
Photo: (L-R) Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy’s Prime minister Mario Draghi, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend a working sesssion at the G7 summit.