Trudeau pledges to support developing countries with COVID-19 vaccines at G20

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and leaders of the Other Group of 20 on Sunday pledged to help developing countries access COVID-19 vaccines while pledging to delay debt payments from short-lived jurisdictions ‘silver.In the final communiqué issued by Saudi Arabia, host of the G20 summit, leaders of the world’s most advanced economies pledged financial assistance to ensure African countries and small Pacific island nations secure the ‘timely access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. way.

Some aid organizations have criticized the Western world for purchasing much of the planned global vaccine supply.

“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access to all, in accordance with members’ commitments to encourage innovation,” the statement said.

“In this regard, we fully support all collaborative efforts, in particular the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) initiative and its COVAX installation, as well as the voluntary licensing of intellectual property,” states the statement, referring to a Global Health COVID-19 Vaccine Project led by the organization to ensure that the poorest countries have access to life-saving vaccines.

Canada has already made commitments to COVAX, which, all in all, has secured hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine.

Canada suspends debt collection from poorest countries

Canada is also a signatory to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, a program that allows eligible developing countries to suspend official bilateral debt service payments during the pandemic.

The program frees up money for countries to purchase much-needed COVID-19 treatment and personal protective equipment or to support unemployed workers.

G20 leaders agreed to extend this program until June 2021 and strongly encouraged private creditors to participate in the initiative on comparable terms. So far, the initiative has helped 46 of 73 eligible countries defer $ 5.7 billion in debt service payments into 2020.

The summit also included discussions on strengthening global pandemic response programs to better prepare for any future health crisis. Leaders pledged to develop “long-term solutions” to fill the “gaps” in the global health response.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said Trudeau “underscored the importance of G20 leadership and coordinated action to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, restore economic growth and take ambitious steps to fight against climate change ”.

The Prime Minister also “pleaded for equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, because we cannot end the pandemic in Canada without ending it everywhere”.

China commits to carbon neutrality by 2060

Trudeau attended a separate virtual meeting on Sunday on the global fight against climate change.

His participation comes just days after his government introduced a bill that would require current and future federal governments to set binding climate targets to bring Canada to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Under international pressure to do more to combat global warming, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the G20 that China will implement its own initiatives, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told the G20 that China will implement its own initiatives, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. (Andy Wong / The Associated Press)

Global emissions will need to reach “net zero” by mid-century to limit increases in global temperature to 1.5 ° C, according to the International Panel on Climate Change. The 1.5 ° C target was a goal of the Paris Climate Agreement, signed by almost all countries, including Canada.

“All G20 members will continue to support efforts and use all available approaches aimed at advancing environmental stewardship for future generations,” the statement said, although the environmental commitments in the final declaration contain a a number of caveats that give each country a fair amount of latitude. .

Leaders stressed the need for a more “multilateral” approach to solving global problems, including the pandemic and the economic fallout. The United States has taken a more isolationist approach to international affairs under the leadership of President Donald Trump.

“Coordinated global action, solidarity and multilateral cooperation are more needed today than ever to overcome current challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century,” the statement read.

Canada-Saudi relations are strained

Saudi Arabia has spent years planning this summit – the first time the oil-rich Middle Eastern country has been set to host a G20 meeting – to see its lavish planned celebrations shaken up by the pandemic and travel restrictions .

The country, which has made reforms in recent years to respond to persistent criticism of its questionable human rights record, had planned to use the summit and the attention that resulted from it to bolster its image.

For the past five years, Saudi Arabia has curbed the country’s religious police, lifted a decades-old ban on female drivers, and allowed access to public cinemas – as part of an effort to get rid of of its image as an ultraconservative country.

International rights groups called on countries to boycott the event, demanding that authorities release dissidents and women’s rights activists detained there.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Trudeau stressed the “need to respect and defend the rule of law and human rights, including the rights of women, in order to prevent persecution and abuse around the world.”

“Today, more than ever, our global success depends on achieving a better path to peace, prosperity and sustainability,” the statement said.

Canada and Saudi Arabia have been at odds lately amid a diplomatic row over the fate of jailed blogger Raif Badawi.

The man’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, a Canadian citizen who lives in Sherbrooke, Que., Has urged the federal government to do more to secure his release.

Badawi was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a heavy fine for writings criticizing Saudi clerics.

In this image provided by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi King Salman delivers his opening speech at a virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia and hosted by videoconference amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Bandar Aljaloud / Saudi Royal Palace via The Associated Press)

Canada also imposed sanctions on senior Saudi officials in November 2018 after the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has been identified by the US Central Intelligence Agency as responsible for the murder.

Collectively, the members of the G20 represent around 80% of global economic output, two-thirds of the world’s population and three-quarters of international trade. Italy will host the G20 summit in 2021.

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