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A Summit of Significant Success: The G7 at Elmau

John Kirton, Director, G7 Research Group
June 8, 2015


The 2015 G7 Elmau Summit has been a significant success, led by its important advances on its priorities of Ukraine, ISIS and, especially, climate change and health.


On Ukraine, G7 leaders produced a substantial success. In a short communiqué passage, they again declared that Russia's annexation of Crimea was illegal, that the Minsk agreements must be implemented in full, that the sanctions against Russia would be sustained and that they could be strengthened as a component of "further measures" should the need arise. To suggest that it might, they expressed "concern about the recent fighting along the line of contact." They further promised Ukraine financial and technical support. And in a new move, they created a Ukraine support group, composed of G7 ambassadors in Kiev, to provide "coordinated advice and assistance." It was a move reminiscent of the Support Implementation Group created by the G7 to assist the Russia at a similar initial stage of its process of economic and political reform.

Eloquent in its absence was any promise of direct, collective security and military support for Ukraine. However, initiatives by individual members showed such stronger members could flow and have a serious deterrent effect now. On the eve of the summit, June 6, the European Union expanded its sanctions, adding three Ukrainian officials supporting Russia to its existing list. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, in Kiev en route to the summit, offered more financial assistance, training and equipment for Ukraine's police force. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, also in Kiev on the way to Germany, said the G7 would stay the course in its support for Ukraine, by putting the subject on the agenda of the G7 summit it would host in Shima, near Nagoya, next year.

Islamic State

On the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), the G7's success was solid at best. It largely endorsed what it and others were already doing. It welcomed the "continued efforts of the Global Coalition to counter ISIL/Daesh, thus collectively endorsing the use of the military force that many of its members were contributing too. It promised to focus more on foreign terrorist fighters. But it placed the issue under the broader context of terrorism and its financing, extending this agenda to include wildlife trafficking. It thus did not signal or specify that any additional military or even diplomatic measures were needed to win the ongoing war.

Climate Change

On climate change, the G7 produced a strong success. It repeatedly affirmed the core principle that all major emitters must control their carbon, as the basis for a new UN-embedded regime. Here it followed the lead set by summit host Angela Merkel in an interview three days before the summit, when she said "we can't deal with the climate issue and meet the two-degree target on our own, without the emerging economies such as India and China." (CBC Interview, June 5, 2015).

On this foundation, the G7 recommitted to raising the promised $100 billion a year in climate finance, from private as well as public sources, declaring that this money would go to mitigation in those countries that had seriously committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under the new regime the United Nations would approve at its climate conference in December. This was backed by a demand that credible monitoring, reporting and verification of such carbon reductions must be made.

The G7 further reaffirmed that global temperature must not rise beyond the dangerous additional 2°C threshold. They agreed that in the medium term they would, as part of a global response, reduce their emissions at the upper rage of the 40% to 70% that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had said was the scientific need. They added a long-term target of decarbonization in the global economy by the end of the century. They innovatively mobilized the multilateral development banks and export credits as well as the earlier HFCs and fossil fuel subsidies elimination in the cause. And they promised to insure against climate disaster risk up to 400 million people by 2020, drawing on the model Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility and the African Risk Capacity. Other sectoral measures were agreed as well.


On health, a strong success came. The G7 began on the proper foundation of strengthening health systems as a whole, supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Health Security Agenda and assisting at least 60 countries over the next five years to this end. They promised to "strengthen the WHO's capacity" to address complex health crises, even if they did not agree to increase the members' assessed contributions by even a modest amount. They did, however, create a common platform for the rapid deployment of experts, endorsed the World Bank's Pandemic Emergency Facility and asked the G20 to join in. They ambitiously addressed antimicrobial resistance neglected tropical disease, maternal and child health, vaccines, and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, even if they neglected non-communicable disease.

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