Written by Marcin Szczepański.
The 48th G7 Summit took place at Schloss Elmau, Germany, on 26-28 June 2022. Russia’s war on Ukraine has heavily affected the G7’s deliberations this year and created pressing new global challenges that were discussed both in the preparatory meetings and at the summit itself. The resulting communiqué focuses on supporting Ukraine, on reducing the impact of the war on the global economy, security of supply and prices of energy and food, climate challenges and the new G7 partnership for infrastructure and investment in developing countries.
In January 2022, Germany identified ‘Progress towards an equitable world’ as an overarching theme of its G7 presidency. However, since the invasion of Ukraine has had profound and transformative global repercussions, it was a major item on the agenda both during the ministerial meetings and in the discussions between the leaders. After the first condemnatory statement on the day of the invasion (24 February), the leaders released four more in which they committed to various actions against Russia (see Figure 1). The Speakers and Presidents of Parliament of the G7 have also condemned the attack and supported strong countermeasures. Essentially, the war unleashed a chain of destabilising political, economic and social effects worldwide and exacerbated the economic impact of the pandemic. Problems such as the rising cost of living and inflationary pressures, threats to energy security, a looming global food crisis, a deteriorating Euro-Atlantic security environment and growing climate concerns made for a tense background to the summit.
The key summit agenda items were: (1) shaping the global economy; (2) promoting partnerships for infrastructure and investment; (3) cooperating on foreign and security policy; (4) the world in conflict: Ukraine (joined virtually by President Zelenskyy); (5) investing in climate, energy, and health; (6) addressing food security and advancing gender equality; and (7) strengthening international cooperation, the multilateral and digital order. A major goal of the summit was to show unity and resilience against Russia’s aggression. The EU was represented by Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. The EU’s priorities included: (1) actions to support Ukraine and put sanctions on Russia; (2) the status of Ukraine’s EU membership bid; (3) Russia’s responsibility for soaring food and energy prices, rising inflation, and supply chain disruptions; (4) the need to raise global climate ambition; (5) EU support for the Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs); (5) perspectives for the G20, and; (6) the future pandemic prevention instrument.
The G7 leaders adopted the main communiqué and four stand-alone statements. They pledged to ‘stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, providing the needed financial, humanitarian, military, and diplomatic support’ and to help rebuild the war-damaged country through an international reconstruction conference and plan. The G7 will continue to seek ways to prevent Russia from profiting from the war and to cut its revenues from sales of gas and oil, including through possible coordinated price caps, which could also help to reduce energy price surges. In addition, the G7 will target Russia’s gold, its third largest export after oil and gas. The leaders also pledged to take action to secure energy supply, in coordination with the International Energy Agency, and to phase out energy from Russia. To help relieve the pressures created by the war, the leaders agreed that public investment in the gas sector can be an appropriate temporary response and mentioned the increased importance of LNG. To improve access to food, which is also deteriorating because of Russia’s invasion, the group will contribute an additional US$4.5 billion to the Global Alliance for Food Security, which makes a total of over US$14 billion in joint G7 commitments to increase global food security in 2022. The G7 leaders announced their commitment to minimise the global economic impact of the war, and reduce negative effects on their own countries, also by stability- and growth-oriented macroeconomic policies, tackling rising costs of living and boosting the resilience of supply chains. The Group also criticised the violations of human rights in China, while calling on Beijing to press Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
Furthermore, the communiqué announced the establishment of a Climate Club, to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This is to be done by accelerating climate action and increasing its ambition, and addressing risks of carbon leakage for emission-intensive goods. To that end, they committed to stop new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, and achieve a highly decarbonised road sector by 2030, as well as a fully or mostly decarbonised power sector by 2035. The G7 will also step up its efforts to mobilise the collective US$100 billion in climate finance by 2025. In order to narrow the global investment gap, the G7 aims to mobilise US$600 billion over the next five years under the new Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). It will support, with the involvement of private finance, ‘sustainable, inclusive, climate resilient and quality infrastructure based on intensified cooperation, democratic values, and high standards’. It will also finance the creation of additional JETPs. India, Indonesia, Senegal and Vietnam will follow the first JETP with South Africa, which was launched in 2021.
Recent years have been rather turbulent for the G7. After the suspension of Russia from the Group (then the G8) – due to its 2014 annexation of Crimea – came the Trump years, marked by divisions over issues such as climate and trade. While during the financial crisis the majority of observers argued that it was the G20 which was critical to the global response, during the pandemic the roles reversed and the G7 reacted more swiftly. Some experts view the Group as incoherent over the dual threat of Russia and China: the US views both as serious threats, while the others tend to avoid confrontation with China.
Perhaps owing to the multitude of difficult issues at stake, G7 summits tend to produce mixed reactions, and the Schloss Elmau summit was no different. On food security, organisations fighting poverty and injustice considered that the G7 funding commitments fall way short of the necessary minimum of US$28.5 billion coming from UN appeals. There was no breakthrough on ending the blockages of grain shipments in the Black Sea. Environmental groups criticised the G7 for watering down pledges on climate action in the face of the energy crisis, failure to deliver on the climate finance front and the lack of a deadline for phasing out coal.
On the other hand, the University of Toronto G7 Research Group considered that the summit produced the strongest performance since the first G7 summit took place in 1975, based on the number of commitments, their level of ambition, and the money mobilised. Although not explicitly mentioned, it is widely held that the PGII is being set up to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Analysts appreciated that there was a clearer commitment to finance hard infrastructure projects in the Partnership. They also considered the new approach to financing the projects, based on deploying limited public finance to mobilise larger volumes of private capital, to be promising. Anti-corruption activists welcomed the commitment to strengthen efforts to combat kleptocracies and corruption, while calling for more details and swift action.
From the EU perspective, particularly positive outcomes included the launch of the PGII and Climate Club, the declaration of the G7’s long-term help for Ukraine, and the start of work on future pandemic readiness.
Read this at a glance on ‘The 2022 G7 Summit: Against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.