8 June 2021
The UK Government is preparing to host two international gatherings of the utmost importance: the G7 summit of rich countries’ leaders in Cornwall this week and November’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
“This is a huge test of ‘global Britain’,” said Christine Allen, director of CAFOD, “a year of opportunity if these conferences result in decisive action on the crises facing us – Covid-19 and the economic fallout from the pandemic, as well as the impact of climate change.
“UK Government’s rhetoric of ‘green recovery’ and ‘build back better’ are empty words if it cannot show leadership, and along with the other rich nations put on the G7 table the financial packages needed to tackle the crises.
“All countries must play their part, but wealthy nations, who bear the greatest historic responsibility for the crisis, need to step up. But we risk huge disappointment if there is just rhetoric rather than clear outcomes.”
Britain has pledged more than £500 million to COVAX, the international initiative to get Covid vaccines to countries in the global south but has not released any of its stockpile of doses. “The British contribution is the highest of any individual country, but the problem at the moment is supply of vaccines,” said CAFOD’s director. “No amount of money can buy doses if there are not enough to go round.
“India’s second wave of the virus is not unique. Countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka have seen a steep raise in cases and their health systems are struggling to respond.”
The charity is calling for “vaccine justice”, arguing that while financial help and debt relief is needed to boost vaccine production and shore up public health systems, rich countries should heed Pope Francis’s call for current does to be shared and for a waiver on vaccine patents.
“Covid has taught us how much we all depend on one another,” said Allen. “This is equally true for climate change. In both cases the most vulnerable in communities are the worst affected. Our government has put targets in place, but that needs to be underpinned by action and policy change.
“We continue to put pressure on Boris Johnson to encourage other world leaders to show the ambition we need to keep temperature rises below the disastrous 1.5-degree threshold.”
CAFOD is pressing for debt cancellation of low- and middle-income countries, forced to choose between investment in healthcare to fight the Covid or servicing loans - not only that owed to countries and international institutions, but also to private creditors. The charity says the G7 and COP26 must aim not just for a “return to normal”, but instead aim for ambitious policies to transform millions of lives and fight global poverty.
“There is an opportunity in a crisis,” said Allen. “The decisions taken this week, and at the end of the year will have long-lasting effects. We are working with our overseas partners and our supports to push for outcomes that will have a positive impact on climate action and global economic and financial reform over the next five years. This is a huge opportunity that cannot be missed to put front and centre a green, resilient, and fair recovery. The eyes of the world will be on the G7.”
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A group of passionate climate campaigners from across England and Wales will be representing CAFOD in Cornwall, making their voices heard on climate change, vaccine fairness and debt cancellation.
CAFOD events at the G7 include: Schoolchildren’s ‘Eyes of the World’ art installation for G7 leaders, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, FalmouthCAFOD events at the G7 include: Schoolchildren’s ‘Eyes of the World’ art installation for G7 leaders, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Falmouth, Friday 11 June at 8:00amFriday 11 June at 8:00am - Nearly 7,000 UK schoolchildren have joined charity CAFOD’s Eyes of the World campaign - crafting eye-themed art pieces to show that children across the world are watching, and calling for a greener, fairer future. Children local to the summit (Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset) have turned their eyes into a giant artwork, in hopes leaders would see their messages - to stop the climate crisis, make sure Covid vaccines are made available globally, and that those living in poverty are cared for. Journalists welcome to attend.
CAFOD has spokespeople both in the UK and overseas who can speak on vaccine equity, Climate finance, debt cancellation
CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. Across the world we bring hope and compassion to poor communities, standing side by side with them to end poverty and injustice. Because we work through the local Church, we can reach people and places that others can’t.