Pandemic, global warming take center stage at G7 Summit

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June 11 (UPI) — President Joe Biden joined other world leaders in Britain at the G7 Summit on Friday as they prepared to discuss a range of issues that include the coronavirus pandemic, global warming, free trade and challenges in dealing with China and Russia.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson kicked off the first plenary session at 9:45 a.m. EDT, welcoming the participants and stressing the importance of the gathering.

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“This is a meeting that genuinely needs to happen” to review lessons learned from the pandemic and “to allow our economies to recover,” Johnson said.

He urged the leaders not to allow a repeat of the recovery from the 2008 worldwide recession, when the resurgence “was not across all segments of the population.”

Johnson then asked the media to leave the room and for live-streaming to end, saying that much work lies ahead, away from what has become at past G7 meetings “a giant media circus.”

The Group of Seven meeting will take on a different feel than the past four years, during which former President Donald Trump had a rocky relationship with the group.

The United States and Britain are being joined by Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Australia, South Africa and South Korea also will be represented at the meeting. India will take part remotely because of COVID-19.

Biden on Thursday called on his G7 members to step forward to help middle-income and lower-income countries on such issues as purchasing coronavirus vaccines. The president announced that the United States would purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at $3.5 billion for other countries.

“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can,” Biden said in a speech, according to the New York Times. “When we see people hurting and suffering anywhere around the world, we seek to help any way we can.”

One issue that could play a critical role in the economies of G7 countries is a minimum corporate tax rate of 15%. The effort has been pushed by the United States in hopes to keep countries from undercutting each other while trying to attract corporations to their shores.

Leaders also will discuss how to rival China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, in which the communist country has funded large infrastructure projects to broaden its economic and political power, along with committing to clean energy transition.