G7 to agree on “green belt and road” plan to fight against Chinese influence

Leaders of the major Western economies of the G7 will back a Western rival to China’s belt and road initiative on Sunday, as part of a plan to mobilize billions of dollars to help developing countries fight the climate change.

Joe Biden has called for offering poor countries a new source of infrastructure finance, offering a “democratic” alternative to Chinese loans, which are seen in the West as a tool to extend Beijing’s influence.

the G7 summit in Cornwall will agree on what allies of summit host Boris Johnson are calling a ‘green belt and roads’ plan, with richer countries helping fund programs that cut carbon emissions.

Johnson wants to focus on supporting green initiatives and has been hesitant to present the initiative as an “anti-China” movement. British officials say they want the G7 “to show what we are for, not against who we are”.

But the White House is in favor of a broader package of infrastructure support and is explicit about its willingness to provide a new counterweight to China’s influence.

“We have a slightly narrower focus,” said a British official.

On Saturday, G7 leaders held talks to coordinate China’s strategy. “There was broad agreement that we should cooperate with Beijing on topics such as tackling climate change, competition in areas such as global supply chains and litigation on issues such as human rights, “said an official briefed on the talks.

The “Build Back Better for the World” plan will provide countries with better access to finance for low-carbon projects such as wind farms and railways.

The plan aims to boost climate finance from multilateral development banks as well as the private sector, and has been touted as a “green Marshall Plan” by some officials, but on a smaller scale.

G7 leaders should pledge to increase their contributions to international climate finance to meet the pre-existing goal of mobilizing $ 100 billion a year from rich countries to help poor countries support green growth.

However, an official observing the discussions said: “It was few details on how this would be achieved.”

A senior US official said on Friday: “The United States and many of our partners and friends around the world have long been skeptical of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

“We have seen the Chinese government demonstrate a lack of transparency, poor environmental and labor standards, and an approach that has made the situation worse in many countries.

“But so far we have not come up with a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and the way we do business. “

Environmental groups criticized the lack of details on how the plan would be funded and operated, leading some to warn that these were just empty promises.

Climate change is a top priority for G7 leaders at the summit, but leaders are struggling to agree on funding. Only Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy are expected to announce new climate finance in Cornwall.

G7 leaders will pledge to phase out gasoline and diesel cars and shut down all coal-fired power plants that do not use emissions capture technology as soon as possible. They will also pledge to protect 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.

With the UK hosting the COP26 climate summit in November, this weekend’s summit in Cornwall is expected to offer a glimpse of how the world’s largest industrialized democracies will approach the climate crisis on the international stage.

Several climate groups were unimpressed, saying the Build Back Better plan seemed vague and weak.

“We still don’t know the timing or the scale of these announcements, and without them these are empty promises,” said Catherine Pettengell, Acting Head of Climate Action Network UK.

People familiar with the process said the UK is relatively late in trying to put its green infrastructure plan in place. An official observing Saturday’s G7 deliberations said Johnson, on one occasion, appeared to mix up the names of various programs.

Johnson said: “The G7 has an unprecedented opportunity to lead a global green industrial revolution, with the potential to transform the way we live. “

All G7 countries have pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making climate policies an area of ​​general agreement. But differences on issues such as charcoal donations and climate finance nonetheless made negotiations difficult over the final language of the leaders’ statement.

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