The view that the pandemic presents an opportunity to build back better is hardly a new prospect, and it is not surprising that this is what the Group wants to work towards. However, trying to visualise a path to achieving B3W remains incredibly difficult, and key questions remain as to how the G7 will achieve this ambition.
Unsurprisingly, the Summit resulted in fresh pledges from leaders to continue the fight against climate change. Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed the G7 has “an unprecedented opportunity to drive a global green industrial revolution” while the official minutes from the Summit “acknowledge our duty to safeguard the planet for future generations”.
However, some believe the G7 did not go far enough and there is feeling that with regards to climate change, the Summit was simply a case of “more talk”.
Critics have pointed out that there was a failure to make any collective financial commitments to help developing nations lower greenhouse gas emissions, which will be an essential component of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. While US President Joe Biden used the Summit to declare the end of coal for power generation in America, he offered no details of a deadline or how such legislation would pass through Congress.
This reaction arguably puts more pressure on policymakers to agree on tangible, deliverable outcomes at this year’s COP26 Conference, and it will be interesting to see how the Group’s objectives become clearer in the run up to the event.
Despite some disappointment from climate campaigners, it is arguably the reaction of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the outcome of the Summit that has grabbed the most attention.
Biden claimed that B3W should act as a challenge to the CCP’s own “Belt and Road Initiative”, China’s global infrastructure development strategy. Supporting the outcome of the 2021 Summit by describing Western democracies as “in a contest with autocrats”, China has responded by claiming that all the G7 Summit has achieved is exposing the “sinister intentions” of the US and their allies.
Many championing a Biden victory in last year’s election claimed that the end of a Trump presidency would also mean the end of the US-China trade war. These commentators could now be disappointed as Biden appears to be using B3W to attempt to build a battle line between the G7 and China’s global economic and political ambitions, meaning more potential trade turmoil with the world’s second largest economy on the horizon.
“Build Back Better for the World” following the pandemic is certainly an objective to championed, and it’s encouraging to see the G7 leaders unanimous in agreement on fighting climate change and reducing global inequality.
However, a lack of firm financial commitments with regards to climate change and a hostile response to the plan from the CCP means the way such an initiative would be achieved remains incredibly difficult to predict.