Our business model is broken, but are the G7 leaders brave enough to fix it?


When G7 leaders meet in Cornwall this weekend, they will have a lot to discuss: the equitable global rollout of Covid vaccines, the rise of China, the climate emergency and how to rebuild economies in the aftermath of the pandemic.

These are all critical issues. But if the G7 is to remain relevant and maintain a leading role on the world stage, it must do more than offer piecemeal responses to these enormous challenges. He has to establish a lead.

This does not only mean facilitating and funding equitable global access to Covid vaccines or launching a climate “Marshall Plan” to support renewable energy projects in southern countries in order to accelerate decarbonization, as vital as it is. Leadership goes beyond that and beyond all the wellness slogans that will undoubtedly spice up the final release. Leadership means recognizing the interconnectedness of so many of the crises we face, addressing the root cause, and coming up with the right answer.

We will (hopefully) emerge soon from a global pandemic that was almost certainly sparked by exploitation of the natural world. Decades of rampant deforestation, the uncontrolled expansion of intensive agriculture and mining have destroyed habitats, driving thousands of species to extinction and pushing people to come into closer contact with wildlife , where 70% of emerging human diseases are found. The ground is being unwisely prepared for future pandemics, perhaps even more deadly than Covid.

We also face a climate emergency with carbon emissions continuing to skyrocket, increasing by the second highest rate in 2020 despite Covid lockdowns. When G7 countries are responsible for the lion’s share of historic carbon emissions and Boris Johnson has declared climate to be high on the G7 agenda, G7 leaders have a clear responsibility to tackle emissions.

Behind deeply interconnected nature and climate crises lies the same root cause: an economic model that values ​​GDP growth above all other measures, and is designed to achieve it.

It’s the elephant in the room. G7 leaders must recognize this and start to address it. With this G7 summit, the UN biodiversity summit and the COP26 climate negotiations scheduled for November, they have a unique opportunity to put the world on another path.

Boris Johnson says he wants to unite the G7 countries to rebuild better and more environmentally from the coronavirus, but we also need to rebuild differently. If we fail, future G7 leaders will face the same agenda as this weekend. But the potential for reversal and change of course will be greatly reduced, and the ramifications will be much worse.

Rebuilding differently means abandoning a primarily growth-focused post-Covid stimulus, which UN scientists said earlier this year would jeopardize the Paris Agreement’s temperature targets. This means recognizing – as the Treasury-commissioned Dasgupta Review made clear – that no technological advancement can sustain economic growth. We are part of a finite biosphere, which an economic model based on infinite growth is gradually destroying, fueling the climate crisis and increasing the risk of future pandemics.

The relentless pursuit of GDP growth has led and is designed to benefit a few at the cost of the planet and the well-being of the people. This has left us with growing inequality, widespread poverty and environmental destruction across the world.

So what choices should G7 leaders make? First, end the grotesque subsidization of fossil fuels which, during Covid, received more support from G7 governments than clean energy.

Second, listen to the science and commit to a rapid reduction in carbon emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C and a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Third, and more fundamentally, face the elephant in the room and turn the G7 into a W7, a Wellbeing 7. As a first step, the final communiqué should include a commitment to adopt alternative indicators of progress and reform international economic organizations to promote welfare economies.

This is what people want as a result of the coronavirus and what the future of our planet demands.


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