June 14, 2021

G7 Summit Falls Short: Failure to end vaccine patents threatens climate action

From June 11-13th, 2021, 7 of the world’s largest so-called advanced economies gathered to participate in the 47th G7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. The summit saw global leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States making big promises but little action and no credible strategy to get there. 

Given the recent IEA report world leaders need to agree to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Any further licenses for fossil fuels are a red line that must not be crossed. 

350.org Campaign Director Agnes Hall said: “We call for an end to all fossil fuel finance, including oil and gas alongside ending coal finance. It is imperative that the G7 invests in shifting their economies away from a dependence on fossil fuels and infinite growth that keeps fueling disaster. The Covid pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable our economies are to shocks. We need to stop investing in fossil fuels and focus on building resilient and decentralized energy systems based on renewable sources.”

Crucial to building economic resilience from the global pandemic is an explicit commitment to end vaccine patents — pharmaceutical corporations must allow the COVID-19 vaccines to be produced as widely as possible by sharing their knowledge free from patents. 

Agnes Hall said: “Scientific advances made at the expense of the public purse should be first and foremost a global public good and now we urgently need to end the corporate monopoly, scale up production and ensure vaccines, equipment and treatments are universally and freely distributed around the world.”

As the world deals with the tragedy of the global pandemic, the climate crisis continues to escalate, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable in its wake. The impacts of Covid-19 and climate breakdown aren’t felt equally around the world or even within our cities, towns and villages. 

In both cases, it is the most marginalised communities who are hit hardest, while the rich use their money and power to insulate themselves as much as they can. Global North countries therefore have a moral duty to and an immediate interest in reaching out in solidarity to global South countries who are in crisis due to vaccine inequality.

The G7’s response failed to address the structural disadvantages that global South countries face due to colonialism, crippling debt and structural adjustment programs imposed by global financial institutions. These circumstances make them unable to mobilize resources at the scale needed to deal with both of these crises.

Just recovery means re-building our economy in a way that works for the many, not just the already wealthy few. It means guaranteeing universal access to vaccines and a clean environment as basic human rights. It means demanding equitable solutions to the climate crisis, so that no member of our society will be forgotten or unjustly bear the costs of climate change. 

May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org said:

“We have had enough of world leaders sitting and talking whilst the world burns around them, with COVID-19 and climate impacts continuing to wreak havoc. In order to achieve a truly Just Recovery from both the health pandemic and climate breakdown, we need international collaboration to tackle both crises and ensure that those most affected are being taken care of. We need funds to be redirected towards guaranteeing equal access to vaccines in all developing countries, so that no one is left behind, and to real actions that go beyond net-zero empty promises. The G7 must take a decisive stance, and end all new fossil fuel investments.”


Landry Ninteretse, Africa Regional Director, 350Africa.org said:

“The growing gap in terms of populations getting covid-19 shots in the developed and developing countries remind us of the  unacceptable inequalities caused by the climate crisis. Such deep divides won’t be addressed by mere promises, but radical commitments and actions to help the most vulnerable societies and economies to build back in a more fair and sustainable manner starting from the cancellation of the debt of developing countries by all creditors to allow greater resources to the health and social sectors. It is time for the G7 to show collective commitment to meeting the costs of adaptation and climate-induced loss and damage which are and will be concentrated on the frontlines of climate breakdown in the global south.”


Joseph Sikulu, Managing Director for 350.org Pacific said:

“The idea that rich countries get to decide who gets to live or perish within the dual crises of COVID-19 and climate change is unacceptable. There can be no climate justice without social justice. The G7 must redirect the money used to fuel the climate crisis into vaccine equality and 100% community-led renewable energy while we still have this narrow window of opportunity. It is no longer enough to announce 2050 net zero targets. In the Pacific, we live the realities of intensifying storms decimating villages and having to rebuild just before another cyclone sweeps past again. The climate crisis is right now — the G7 must take a decisive stance to end all new fossil fuel investments. To start, Canada should stop the Trans Mountain sands oil pipeline’s expansion.”


Norly Mercado, Asia Regional Director for 350.org said:

“In Asia, vaccine and climate inequality means that hundreds of millions of most vulnerable populations will continue to be exposed to the pandemic and the climate crisis while rich countries like the G7 insulate themselves. Japan, the only Asian G7 economy, has continued pouring fuel on the climate crisis since the Paris Agreement. They have contradicted climate science and are still thinking of funding coal plants in Bangladesh and Indonesia, even as these countries suffer increasingly intense cyclones and floods. All of the G7 countries have a responsibility to ensure global vaccine access and end all new fossil fuel investments.”


Anna Vickerstaff, Senior UK Campaigner for 350.org said:

“This week Boris Johnson chose to fly from London to the G7 summit in Cornwall, a choice that reflects the UK government’s hollow approach to the climate crisis. As hosts of COP26 the government is trying to position itself as a world leader, but its (lack of) actions speak louder than words. Despite a domestic moratorium, the British government continues to promote and support fracking in countries like Argentina, where British-based oil majors and financiers can more easily profit from the exploitation and destruction of communities than they can at home. The UK’s financial sector is investing so heavily in fossil fuels that if it was a country it would be responsible for so much carbon pollution it would be the ninth worst offender on the planet. Meanwhile the Bank of England, shackled by the Treasury, sits back and refuses to regulate this destruction.”