Dear Prime Minister Johnson,
Ahead of the G7, I am writing to express my deep concern that this meeting will fall far short of the intent and action necessary to bring about a fair, equitable and effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and to ‘build back better’. We are facing multiple crises of climate change, deepening inequality, and the impact of the pandemic. Urgent action is required. Beyond exclusive meetings of the world’s wealthiest countries, what is needed is an ambitious plan to tackle:
The climate and ecological crises:
We are at a critical crossroad, where any further delay to climate action will mean it is too late to put in place the measures necessary to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Years of empty promises have now left us heading towards global heating of at least 3 degrees Celsius, and this is likely to plunge billions of people into climate catastrophe. We should be setting ambitious targets for zero carbon by 2030, and committing the finances necessary to fix our energy and food systems to guarantee clean energy and healthy food for all – in line with the polluter pays principle. The broken climate finance promises of $100 billion are a drop in the ocean of what is required. G7 countries must commit to the $1 trillion needed each year in new and additional financing by those on the frontline of the climate crisis.
The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the deep inequality between rich and poor, yet your government has seen fit to significantly cut the UK’s international development budget at a time of great need. At the same time, the richest countries – with just 14% of the world’s population – have bought up over half of all vaccines, and continue to deny the poorest in the world any hope of vaccine access until at least 2024.
Now is not the time to be turning our backs on the poorest and most vulnerable. We should be increasing international funds to support those most in need, and leading the call for a global immunisation programme for all; including supporting patent waivers for Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment. We must stop the forced privatisation of health systems, and instead invest in universal public services, including a public healthcare system for all.
The global trade system:
Rich countries have imposed unfair trade rules, promoted policies of forced privatisation, and have locked poorer countries into an unjust debt crisis. All in the name of a discredited neoliberal economic system that has resulted in record levels of inequality and poverty. Our economic system isn’t working and is not fit for purpose for the global challenges we are facing.
Instead of promoting free trade policies and deals that serve to benefit big business, we should be focusing on measures to cancel Global South debt from all creditors, and ensure corporations and the wealthiest pay fair taxes.
A Just Transition for all:
Promises to ‘build back better’, or ‘green’ the economies of rich countries, cannot be done through yet another wave of unsustainable extraction and consumption of the Earth’s resources – which sacrifice communities and ecosystems in the process. Delivering a Just Transition for all requires rewriting the rules of the global economy to put the wellbeing of people at its heart. As a first step, rich countries should commit to measures to create a non-carbon and non-resource-intensive ‘circular society’ (where all materials in a society are recycled, reused or regenerated; and ‘growth’ is redefined as positive society-wide benefits). Rich countries must lift all waivers on technologies needed for the transition, and commit to paying reparations to the Global South for the centuries of wealth and resource extraction that have left so many people locked into poverty.
We neither lack the money nor the solutions to solve these crises. Millions of people around the world are calling on leaders to demonstrate the political will needed to ensure that we seize this moment to create a fair and just world for all.
Rana Busharat Ali Khan