G7 Live Updates: World Leaders Face Critical Climate Questions

On the final day of the meeting of the world’s wealthiest large democracies, nations are working to reach consensus on plans to limit carbon emissions. President Biden will meet with Queen Elizabeth II later on Sunday.,

LiveUpdated June 13, 2021, 5:35 a.m. ETJune 13, 2021, 5:35 a.m. ET

At the meeting of the world’s wealthiest large democracies, nations are working to reach consensus on plans to limit carbon emissions. President Biden will meet with Queen Elizabeth II later on Sunday.

President Biden and Jill Biden attended a church service before the last day of the Group of 7 summit in Cornwall, England, on Sunday.
President Biden and Jill Biden attended a church service before the last day of the Group of 7 summit in Cornwall, England, on Sunday.Credit…Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

After promising a comprehensive effort to bring the pandemic to an end and wrestling with President Biden’s call to counter China’s growing influence, leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies gathered for a final day of meetings on Sunday to confront the global threat posed by climate change.

But even as the leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized nations worked to reach a consensus on curbing carbon emissions and increasing biodiversity, the gathering on the Cornish coast marked a dramatic return of trans-Atlantic diplomacy.

“It is great to have a U.S. president who’s part of the club and very willing to cooperate,” President Emmanuel Macron of France said after meeting Mr. Biden. “What you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership.”

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Macron Says U.S. Is ‘Definitely’ Back, as Biden Repairs Ties With Europe

While posing for photos with President Biden at the G7 meeting in England on Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron of France confidently told reporters that he agreed with Mr. Biden that the United States was back as a global ally.

“We have to deal with this pandemic and Covid-19. We have to face a lot of changes, a lot of crisis, climate change. And for all these issues, what we need is cooperation, and I think it’s great to have a U.S. president part of the club and very willing to cooperate. And I think that what you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership. And we do appreciate it. And I think we can deliver great things with that.” “I think we can do a lot, too. The United States, I’ve said before, we’re back. The U.S. is back. We feel very, very strongly about the cohesion of NATO. And I, for one, think that the European Union is an incredibly strong and vibrant entity. Reporter to Biden: “Have you convinced allies that America is back?” “Ask him.” Reporter to Macron: “Is America is back?” “Yeah, definitely.”

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While posing for photos with President Biden at the G7 meeting in England on Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron of France confidently told reporters that he agreed with Mr. Biden that the United States was back as a global ally.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

While there was much agreement on the broad challenges facing the world and the need for urgent action, much of the work of the summit was being conducted in closed-door sessions and the details of many of the plans had yet to be publicly revealed.

As if to underscore the evolving nature of the challenges facing the leaders as they gathered in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic, all internet and Wi-Fi links around the room where the they met on Saturday were cut off out of concern about pervasive Chinese surveillance.

After wrapping up his visit to Britain, Mr. Biden will travel to Brussels on Monday for a NATO summit where some of the issues raised at the G7 meeting will be on the agenda once again, but viewed through the lens of the collective defense of the alliance — including dealing with emerging technological threats.

“I expect allies will agree a new cyber defense policy,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in advance of the meeting. “It will recognize that cyberspace is contested at all times.”

After the NATO summit, Mr. Biden will meet with leaders of the European Union before he sits down on Wednesday with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

One of the animating themes of Mr. Biden’s foreign policy has been that the United States and its allies are engaged in an existential battle between democracy and autocracy — and that democracies must prove they can meet the challenges of the moment.

The president began his trip on Wednesday by telling American troops in Britain that the future of the world depends on restoring the longstanding alliances with European countries that had been “hardened in the fire of war” and built by “generations of Americans.”

Speaking at R.A.F. Mildenhall, he vowed to stand up to adversaries like China and Russia, pledging to to tell Mr. Putin “what I want him to know.”

But before that meeting, the Bidens will have a much more cordial sit-down, filled with pomp and ceremony, at Windsor Castle with Queen Elizabeth II.

Since she ascended to the throne in 1952, the queen has met with 12 American presidents. But, like people around the world, Elizabeth, who is 95, spent much of the past year in isolation. Her meeting with Mr. Biden Sunday evening will be her first one-on-one engagement with a world leader since the start of the pandemic.

Climate activists protested on Saturday off Gyllngvase Beach, near a media center for the summit in Cornwall, England.
Climate activists protested on Saturday off Gyllngvase Beach, near a media center for the summit in Cornwall, England.Credit…Alastair Grant/Associated Press

When the Group of 7 leaders gathered in Cornwall, England, for a reception and dinner on Friday night, they did so at the Eden Project, a domed botanical garden chosen to underscore the group’s search for consensus about the need to confront climate change.

On Sunday, they will meet in a more formal setting, aimed at preparing the stage for the world’s nations to unveil newly aggressive targets for reducing carbon emissions by 2030 at a major United Nations climate change meeting in November in Scotland.

President Biden joined his counterparts last week having worked to reposition the United States as a global leader on climate change after four years in which his predecessor abandoned the 2016 Paris climate accord.

The Biden administration plans to focus on delivering strong language among leaders agreeing to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Beyond that point, climate change is expected to have extreme and irreversible consequences.

Keeping to that level would require significant new emissions targets from countries like Australia, Canada and Japan. Developing nations, meanwhile, are eyeing whether the United States and other wealthy countries will make good on a promise made more than a decade ago to mobilize $100 billion annually for poor countries to cope with the consequences of climate change.

Climate finance for developing countries currently hovers around $80 billion, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 38 countries that includes all of the major industrialized nations.

“This is where there has been so little progress,” said Yamide Dagnet, the director of climate negotiations at the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based research institute.

United States officials hope to announce a meaningful consensus when the G7 leaders issue a final summit statement — known as a “communique” — on Sunday afternoon. But hovering over the climate negotiations, experts say, is continued tension around ensuring an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and debt relief to poor countries.

“It’s difficult to ask countries to negotiate when there’s a threat that’s in plain sight right now and we’re not putting the resources on the table,” said Peter Betts, an associate at Chatham House, a London-based research institute, and the former lead climate negotiator for Britain and the European Union.

One key to success — and a central topic to be discussed during the climate session on Sunday — will be persuading China to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. China now emits more than the United States, Europe and Japan combined and has faced intense pressure from the Biden administration to set more ambitious targets.

That could mean winning support from a broader group of nations than just the wealthy ones around the table this weekend. Although China is “not terribly susceptible to pressure from developed countries,” Mr. Betts said, “it does care what the developing world thinks.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, right, with world leaders at the Eden Project in Cornwall on Friday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, right, with world leaders at the Eden Project in Cornwall on Friday.Credit…Pool photo by Jack Hill

Angela Merkel, who plans to step down as Germany’s chancellor after the country holds elections in September, is attending her final Group of 7 summit this weekend.

Some things have changed since her first such gathering, in 2007 (leaders are no longer disputing the threat of climate change), but some things have not (Ms. Merkel remains the only elected female leader in the club).

Yet what represents a potentially momentous change is the prospect of Ms. Merkel’s absence from the table — for the leading industrialized nations that make up the group, for a Europe where she has been a dominant leader and by the absence of another elected female leader to take her place.

“Just think of what the picture will look like when she leaves,” said Katja Iversen, an adviser to the Women Political Leaders group, who took part in the gender discussion at the 2018 G7 summit in Canada.

Ms. Merkel has used her mix of clout and charm, and her willingness to negotiate deep into the night, to push issues long overlooked as relevant to the global economy, including climate, sustainability and gender equality.

Now, Germany and the rest of Europe will turn to new leaders to shape foreign policy on issues such as military spending, Russia and especially China.

Will people in Britain soon be back in fully packed pubs, or will the Delta coronavirus variant mean an extensions of restrictions beyond June 21?
Will people in Britain soon be back in fully packed pubs, or will the Delta coronavirus variant mean an extensions of restrictions beyond June 21? Credit…Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Even as the Group of 7 announced during its summit this week that its member nations would donate one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, the gathering’s host country, Britain, is facing a reminder that it isn’t out of the woods yet on the pandemic either.

The news media call June 21 “freedom day” — the fast-approaching moment when England’s remaining coronavirus restrictions are scheduled to be cast off, allowing pubs to fill to capacity, nightclubs to open their doors and the curtain to rise in theaters around the country.

But a recent spike in cases of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant called Delta has prompted such alarm among scientists and health professionals that the country now seems destined to wait a little longer for its liberty.

For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, oft accused of doing too little, too late to combat the virus, the stakes are high. The question is not so much whether to postpone “freedom day,” but to what degree. Four weeks seems to be the maximum under consideration, with some advocating a limited version of the full opening and others favoring a two-week delay.

An announcement on the next steps is scheduled for Monday, and Mr. Johnson planned to study the data this weekend. But many health professionals have already made up their minds over the seriousness of the threat from the Delta variant, first detected in India.

The concern is that a surge of cases caused by the new variant could translate into a sharper uptick in hospitalizations and risk the virus once again overwhelming the National Health Service.

President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, with Queen Elizabeth II in Cornwall on Friday.
President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, with Queen Elizabeth II in Cornwall on Friday.Credit…Pool photo by Jack Hill

President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, are scheduled to meet again with Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday at Windsor Castle as part of the U.S. leader’s first foreign trip as president.

The president and first lady will visit with the queen before traveling to Brussels for meetings with NATO and European Union leaders.

The world’s longest-reigning monarch, Elizabeth has met with every American president since Harry S. Truman, except Lyndon B. Johnson.

The British monarch last hosted an American president in June 2019, when Donald J. Trump came to the country on a lavish state visit. The event stirred some debate because only a handful of American presidents have received the honor of an official state visit.

On a previous visit, in 2018, Mr. Trump made headlines by walking in front of Elizabeth, 95, during an inspection of the royal guard, which was seen as a breach of protocol.

Sunday will be the second visit with the queen this weekend for Mr. Biden and the first lady after a reception and dinner on Friday, as the royal family made an unusually robust presence around the edges of the annual Group of 7 summit.

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First Lady and Duchess of Cambridge Tour School

The first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, toured a primary school in England on Friday. The first lady has a particular interest in global education.

“They’re scared to death.” [laughter] “Hello.” “Thank you very much.” “Do you like it?” “At 4 years old?” “Wow, are you 5 now?” “Yes.” “Fantastic. And we know that picking up all the rubbish will –” “This is a tough word, ‘rubbish.’ That’s a hard word, very impressive.” “You’re very good at — how many do you have?” “It’s very important. It’s the foundation of everything. So I can tell you that as a teacher at the upper levels, if they don’t have a good foundation, they fall so far behind. So this is amazing to see what these children are doing and how far advanced the are at 4 and 5 years old. I met some wonderful teachers and principals and most of all, the children who were so inspiring. And so well-behaved, I know, I couldn’t get over it.”

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The first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, toured a primary school in England on Friday. The first lady has a particular interest in global education.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Aaron Chown

The royals played host to the G7 leaders at the Eden Project, an environmental and educational center in Cornwall, England, about 35 miles from Carbis Bay, where the summit is being held.

In addition to the queen, Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne; and his eldest son, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge; Charles’s wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and William’s wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, also attended.

Earlier Friday, Dr. Biden visited a school in Cornwall with the Duchess of Cambridge.

The summit comes just two months after the death of Prince Philip, the queen’s husband of 73 years. But Elizabeth quickly resumed her schedule of public appearances. Friday’s event was her first with any foreign leader since the start of the pandemic.

— Traci Carl

President Biden with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain before their meeting on Thursday.
President Biden with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain before their meeting on Thursday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain signed a new version of the 80-year-old Atlantic Charter on Thursday, using their first meeting to redefine the Western alliance and accentuate what they said was a growing divide between battered democracies and their autocratic rivals, led by Russia and China.

The two leaders unveiled the new charter as they sought to focus the world’s attention on emerging threats from cyber attacks, the Covid-19 pandemic that has upended the global economy, and climate change, using language about reinforcing NATO and international institutions that Mr. Biden hoped would make clear that the Trump era of America First was over.

The new charter, a 604-word declaration, was an effort to stake out a grand vision for global relationships in the 21st century, just as the original, first drafted by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a declaration of a Western commitment to democracy and territorial integrity just months before the United States entered World War II.

“It was a statement of first principles, a promise that the United Kingdom and the United States would meet the challenges of their age and that we’d meet it together,” Mr. Biden said after his private meeting with Mr. Johnson. “Today, we build on that commitment, with a revitalized Atlantic Charter, updated to reaffirm that promise while speaking directly to the key challenges of this century.”

World leaders at a Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, France, in August 2019, the last time the gathering was held in person.
World leaders at a Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, France, in August 2019, the last time the gathering was held in person.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

For three days, beginning Friday, some of the world’s most powerful leaders have descended on a small Cornish village for a series of meetings as part of the Group of 7 summit, which brings together the heads of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

So what exactly is the G7, and why does it matter?

The nations belonging to the club are the world’s wealthiest large democracies, close allies and major trading partners that account for about half of the global economy.

With broadly similar views on trade, political pluralism, security and human rights, they can — when they agree — wield enormous collective influence. Their heads of government meet, along with representatives of the European Union, to discuss economic issues and major international policies.

Those attending this year’s gathering include leaders from the G7 member countries plus the European Union and guests Australia, South Africa and South Korea, along with India via video link.

The group, whose origins go back to the 1973 oil crisis, grew out of an informal gathering of finance ministers from Britain, the United States, France, Japan and what was then West Germany — initially known as the Big Five — as they tried to agree on a way forward.

Since the 1970s, the group and its later additional members have met dozens of times to work on major global issues that affect the international economy, security, trade, equality and climate change. In 2015, the summit paved the way for the Paris agreement to limit global emissions, which was decided later that year.

For a time, the group had eight members — remember the G8? — but Russia, always something of an outlier, was kicked out in 2014 amid international condemnation of President Vladimir V. Putin’s annexation of Crimea. Last year, President Donald J. Trump said he believed Russia should be reinstated.

Atop the agenda this year will be the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the global economy, with a focus on worldwide recovery and vaccination.

This summit, hosted by Britain, which currently holds the group’s presidency, is the 47th of its kind and will continue through Sunday. Last year’s summit was canceled because of the pandemic, making this gathering the first in-person G7 leaders’ summit in almost two years. The last was in August 2019 in Biarritz, France.

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