“High inflation, bad economic prospects, energy crisis – the major industrial nations had plenty of economic problems to discuss at their summit meeting”…This headline dates back to 1975 when the heads of state and government of Germany, France, Japan, Italy, UK and the USA met for the first time to tackle a crisis together. Canada joined the round afterwards. At that time, Arab states had cut oil supplies and put the “G7” under massive economic, but also social, pressure. Sounds somehow familiar, right?
Since then, the Western industrialised nations have failed to maintain and promote an independent energy supply under public ownership. Instead of providing energy security for their citizens, the world’s richest countries have preferred to make deals with countries that they otherwise criticise for human rights abuses and lack of democratic values.
The same short-sightedness and one-sided fixation on the free market led to the G7’s failure to advance on tax and climate justice to this day, even though they have had the power to do so.
This year’s G7 summit in Elmau Castle in Bavaria was also dominated by the war in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin shorts the gas supply to Europe but Europe is still hooked on gas for heating. Winter is coming, and it will be expensive for millions of consumers who already struggle with high costs for heating and electricity. There wasn’t much in terms of answers to the situation faced by millions on the sharp end of these elite geopolitical manoevres.
Climate, tax, & social justice: G7 leaders don’t deliver.
According to the Right to Energy Coalition, 1 in 4 households in the EU, over 50 million people, cannot afford to adequately heat, cool or light their homes. This shocking figure is bound to rise given the soaring energy prices we have seen since the autumn. The reply from the G7, however, is a slap in the face of all these people. Some states have announced one-time tax-free subsidies on heating bills. Thus, instead of capping energy prices, governments are subsidising corporations. Rather than finally sealing the final and rapid phase-out of fossil energies, the search is on worldwide for new suppliers of gas and coal – again, bowing in to possible blackmailings and dependencies. The summit ended without an agreement on new climate protection targets.
The G7 is not a world government, that is clear. 90 percent of the world’s population lives outside the G7 countries. But they have enormous economic power and thus a lot of room for maneuver. Anyone who wonders why the economically most powerful countries in the world constantly fail – for example, with the promised vaccine donations that could have prevented 600,000 covid deaths – must understand to whom the seven men at the head of the industrialised countries owe their loyalties.
A matter of loyalty…but to whom?
The G7 states talk about climate protection, but mainly represent the interests of the oil, coal and car industries. The G7 states claim to fight pandemics, but are not willing to release vaccine patents because the profits of pharmaceutical companies are more important to them than the people in the global South. Less than half (49 per cent) of the 2.1 billion COVID vaccine donations promised to poorer countries by G7 countries have been delivered, according to new figures published today by Oxfam and the People’s Vaccine Alliance. They talk about openness to the world and at the same time reinforce the West’s deadly isolation of refugees.
For years, hardly anything has happened in terms of taxing the mega-rich and corporations or closing tax havens. The result: record profits for corporations and billionaires on the one hand, loss of income for most people worldwide and a massive increase in poverty and hunger on the other.
There is no doubt that the “global West” cannot solve the world’s problems alone. However, as long as the interests of profit-oriented corporations and shareholders are unilaterally protected, the G7 event is an elitist alliance that undermines the basis of our democracies.
Further reading (external resources): the People’s vaccine