National–As the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations wrapped up their first in-person summit since the outbreak of the pandemic, they released a joint communiqué on Sunday, underscoring areas of solidarity — and the differences that remain — when it comes to tackling a host of global crises.
The group, including President Biden, did not reach agreement on a timeline to eliminate the use of coal for generating electric power, a failure that climate activists said was a deep disappointment ahead of a global climate conference later this year.
The leaders sought to present a united front even as it remained to be seen how the plans would be executed.
The agreement represented a dramatic return of America’s postwar international diplomacy, and Mr. Biden said it was evidence of the strength of the world’s democracies in tackling hard problems.
Speaking to reporters after the summit, Mr. Biden said the leaders’ endorsement of a global minimum tax would help ensure global equity and a proposal to finance infrastructure projects in the developing world would counter the influence of China, providing what he said was a “democratic alternative.”
Those initiatives, he said, would promote democratic values and not an “autocratic lack of values.”
“Everyone at the table understood and understands both the seriousness and the challenges that we are up against and the responsibility of our proud democracies to step up and deliver to the rest of the world,” Mr. Biden said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, who hosted the summit, said that the gathering was an opportunity to demonstrate “the benefits of democracy.”
That would start, he said, with agreements to speed up the effort to vaccinate the world, which he called “the greatest feat in medical history.”
Asked about the failure to go further on climate policy by setting firm timelines, Mr. Johnson said that the general criticism was misplaced and failed to take into account the full scope of what was achieved during the summit.
“I think it has been a highly productive few days,” he said.
Mr. Biden hoped to use his first trip abroad to show that democracy, as a system of government, remained capable of addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.
The communiqué issued on Sunday fleshed out some of the proposals that have dominated the summit and was explicit in the need to counter the rise of China.
“Three years ago, China wasn’t even mentioned in the G7 communiqué,” according to an administration official who briefed reporters on its contents. “This year, there is a section on China that speaks to the importance of coordinating on and responding to China’s nonmarket economic practices and the need to speak out against human rights abuses, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.”
The communiqué promised “action against forced labor practices in the agricultural, solar, and garment sectors.”
It also noted the need for “supply chain resilience and technology standards so that democracies are aligned and supporting each other.”
At the same time, the nations agreed to an overhaul of international tax laws, unveiling a broad agreement that aims to stop large multinational companies from seeking out tax havens.
The administration official called it a “historic endorsement to end the race to the bottom in corporate taxation with a global minimum tax that will help fund domestic renewal and grow the middle class.”
But for all the good will and declarations of unity, there were questions about how the proposals would be translated into real-world action.
For instance, on the tax laws, a number of hurdles have yet to be overcome.
The biggest obstacle to getting a deal finished could come from the United States. The Biden administration must win approval from a narrowly divided Congress to make changes to the tax code, and Republicans have shown resistance to Mr. Biden’s plans.