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Covid vaccine-equity and tackling climate change top Anglican leaders’ hopes for G7

Posted on: June 11, 2021 11:59 AM
US President Joe Biden met the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (Thursday) ahead of this weekend’s G7 summit at Carbis Bay in Cornwall.
Photo Credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Anglican leaders from G7 countries express their hopes on the issues to be addressed as world leaders gather for their summit in Cornwall.

Global access to Covid-19 vaccines and urgent action to tackle climate change are amongst the issues of concern to Anglican leaders from G7 countries, as leaders of the seven wealthiest nations gather in Cornwall, England, for their annual summit. Speaking to the Anglican Communion News Service, Anglican leaders stressed the impact of Covid-19 on indigenous communities and also raised issues of nuclear energy, the care of refugees, and the need to hear the voices of young people.

The Heads of State and Government from the Group of Seven (G7) – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US – are meeting this weekend (11-13 June) for their 47th summit. It is taking place at Tregenna Castle in Carbis Bay, in Cornwall.

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said: “the most pressing concern that I trust the G7 will address is the question of vaccine equity. No one is safe until all are safe. The majority of G7 countries all have access to vaccine doses and are on their way to full vaccination. Anglicans in Canada have joined other faith leaders to advocate for wider and broader sharing of vaccines and the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights agreements so that vaccines may be produced locally in areas of most need, especially India and Africa.

“An equally urgent area of concern is global climate change and particularly its impact on many Indigenous peoples. We need strong leadership from the G7 on climate control and commitments so that our own and other governments, particularly in Brazil, may be held accountable.

“There are, of course, other significant issues of concern including human rights abuses in the Philippines; human trafficking that requires international commitments as well as local engagement; issues in Palestine and Israel needing a just and peaceful settlement and the questions around refugees and migrant workers’ rights, safety, and treatment.

“As G7 countries see the pandemic recede, hopefully, there is need for renewed commitments in all of these areas for the sake of the common good. May it be so!”

Archbishop Luke Kenichi Muto, Primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Communion in Japan), said: “as the G7 meets in the United Kingdom, the Anglican Church in Japan has high hopes. The Japanese government still plans to hold the Olympics in Tokyo next month, but at the same time, the programme of vaccination against Covid-19 in Japan has barely begun, leaving many people rightly worried about holding the games at such a time.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has become more widespread than most anticipated, but we hope that the G7 members will work together to provide and ensure that vaccines will be fairly distributed to people in all countries, especially those in the developing world.

“Another focus of the Japanese government is that of tackling climate change with a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. That means a restarting of the country’s nuclear power plants.

Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the ensuing accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, however, even after 10 years many people are unable to return to their hometowns due to serious radioactive contamination. Connected to this, the government plans to release contaminated water stored in the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station into the ocean. This is not acceptable.

“We hope that the G7 will recognise that nuclear power is not by any means a ‘clean energy’, and once an accident occurs, it will damage much of God’s creation over many years. In addition, nuclear fuel can be used to produce nuclear weapons at any time, and as a church in a nation which has experienced atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Anglican Church in Japan strongly urges G7 leaders to work together to create a world without nuclear power.”

Bishop Mark Edington, Bishop in Charge of the US-based Episcopal Church’s Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, said: “G7 leaders face a heavy agenda of issues that Christians care deeply about: the urgency of decisive action to address climate change, which already affects the poorest and most vulnerable; the critical need for just solutions for the care and sheltering of refugees, and wise actions to contend with the root causes of mass displacement; and the need to turn the victory of vaccines for Covid-19 into a promise of hope for all people, wherever they live.

“But deeper than this, our leaders gather at a time when the basic values upon which our societies are based — values shaped by Christianity’s radical notion of the fundamental equality of all people, and the consequences for social order that derive from it — are themselves questioned and challenged. We in the church must not hesitate to be speak clearly of the vision of beloved community God holds before us, and to stand firmly for those values that our faith teaches and our gospel exemplifies.”

Bishop Robert Innes, the Church of England’s Bishop in Europe said: “care for our climate is an urgent common interest that affects us all. The G7 summit in Cornwall this week is a key opportunity for our global leaders. They need to commit themselves to overdue action now to tackle climate change.

“As ever, our young people are the torch bearers for causes and campaigns that matter. I am delighted to support the Gee Seven song recorded by young choristers of Truro Cathedra with a message of encouragement and support. In the Diocese in Europe, we are planning an event bringing together our eco- and young people’s ministry in early September, ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP-26) meeting in Glasgow in November.  

Bishop Robert added: “I am proud, too, of the local contributions to our Eco-Diocese agenda, from dedicated Lent commitments made earlier this year to reducing plastic waste to the pioneering of the first ever City Forest in our Church, a microcosm oasis and a bio-diversity sustainability project in Italy. All these efforts are real examples of how we can all contribute both to national Church net zero carbon targets for 2030, as well as to the EU Green Deal package to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050.”

Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Representative to the Holy See, said: “the nations of the world have been crying out for a new equity and fraternity in the wake of the pandemic. I hope that the world leaders gathered at the G7 will listen to the voices of the world (and especially those from poorer countries) and bring about the economic and political changes to promote that greater equity and equality in sharing of the world’s resources.”

The church leaders’ call for vaccine equity echoes the call last November by the Primates of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also led a call for equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in May in a statement jointly signed by other prominent global leaders.

The Anglican Alliance and the new Anglican Health and Community Network (AHCN) have been working for global vaccine equity for several months, drawing on their wider Covid-19 pandemic response work. The Bishop of Hertford, Michael Beasley, who is the co-convener of the AHCN, said that a vaccine programme has “got to be global”, adding: “that’s why this week we’re calling on the governments of the G7 countries to commit to the response that’s needed for all our futures. The Covid pandemic can only be addressed through a whole world solution – one that acts in justice for everyone, that recognises that none of us are safe until we’re all safe and that defends the livelihoods and dignity of all humanity.”

This weekend’s summit will take place in a seaside village in the Diocese of Truro. The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, said: “in preparation for the G7 meeting, the Church in Cornwall has focused particularly on projects and initiatives that highlight young people, making sure that their voices are heard, and also on the priority of care for creation.

“I pray that the decisions made by the leaders have a significant impact, particularly in renewing and strengthening a commitment to care for the environment and that that the Holy Spirit will hover over the work of the G7 to bring harmony, consensus and agreement."

As well as welcoming G7 leaders to this weekend’s summit, the UK will host several meetings throughout the year between various government ministers from the G7, both virtually and in different locations across the country The US held the G7 Presidency in 2020 but did not convene a leaders’ summit due to the pandemic. The last face-to-face summit of G7 leaders took place in France in August 2019.