FALMOUTH, England—The Group of Seven leaders were set Sunday to announce a series of measures to counter China’s influence, tackle climate change and beat back the Covid-19 pandemic as their first face-to-face meeting in nearly two years draws to a close.
The gathering at a beachside resort in southern England saw a return to more conventional U.S. diplomacy under President
who used the event to showcase America’s desire to partner with other rich democracies to challenge China and other autocracies around the world.
Unlike the tense meetings during the Trump administration, this G-7 was a largely feel-good affair, with leaders publicly complimenting their counterparts, mingling with Queen
at a reception and rallying around Mr. Biden’s call for rich democracies to help poorer nations combat climate change, deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and push back against China’s influence.
The final joint statement on Sunday is expected to sign off on numerous initiatives including to donate one billion Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations, end government subsidies for foreign coal projects and place a minimum 15% tax on large multinationals.
in attendance, G-7 summits were often tense affairs, and the 2020 meeting planned for Camp David never took place because of the pandemic. This time, the G-7 nations, made up of the U.S., U.K, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Germany—along with the European Union—were able to craft joint positions on a number of issues early on during the event with only a few issues needing last-minute ironing out, officials said. The final version was agreed to in the early hours of Sunday morning, one official said.
“The U.S. is back,” Mr. Biden told reporters during his first foreign trip as president, in a bid to draw a distinction with his predecessor.
There was some disagreement among leaders over how to confront China. Mr. Biden is pushing world leaders to call out China over allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang. Several European leaders called for a more cautious approach. It isn’t clear if China’s alleged human-rights abuses, which Beijing denies, will be called out by name in the final communiqué when it is published Sunday.
G-7 countries rallied around a global infrastructure plan intended to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to low-income countries. The plan is meant to provide an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
British Prime Minister
said that Mr. Biden was “a breath of fresh air.” French President
who was seen walking arm-in-arm with Mr. Biden down the beach, said “I think it’s great to have the U.S. president part of the club and who is very willing to cooperate.”
The Covid-19 crisis formed a natural focal point for the meeting. Leaders agreed to deliver one billion vaccine doses to developing nations by 2022. They also laid out a framework to ensure that countries can react faster to future pandemics.
The U.S. government is donating 500 million vaccine doses around the world, with the U.K. supplying another 100 million shots. However, the donation is far short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organization says it needs to inoculate 70% of the global population by next year. The leaders were criticized by some nongovernmental agencies for not providing more vaccines. “We need more and we need them faster,” said
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
director-general of the WHO, on Saturday.
G-7 leaders also discussed a probe into the origins of the virus in China and debated whether the WHO’s powers to investigate the matter should be beefed up, according to one official.
On climate, the nations were set to sign off on a number of measures to combat climate change as they aim to almost halve their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 compared with 2010 levels.
The leaders will outline steps they are taking to halt most government subsidies for fossil-fuel producers overseas and measures to phase out gasoline and diesel cars. Canada, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. will also provide as much as $2 billion in financing to help developing countries transition away from coal, the White House said. Other initiatives due to be presented include plans to support girls’ education in developing nations and to protect 30% of the world’s oceans.
To bolster the message of democracies joining to battle authoritarianism, Britain invited India, South Korea, South Africa and Australia as guests to the summit. Indian Prime Minister
participated by video link because of the Covid-19 wave in his country.
However, an initial idea of creating a formalized “D10” club of democracies was quietly rowed back amid questions about which democracies should join and whether it would water down the G-7 format. Instead, officials see a more informal alliance as the best way for democracies to work together in the future.
After gathering with fellow G-7 leaders for a socially distanced photo on the beach, Mr. Biden tweeted, “Diplomacy is back.”
The G-7 Summit
More coverage of President Biden’s trip, selected by WSJ editors.
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