G7: a summit or a summer holiday?

Natasha Pavey
July 16, 2021

Last weekend marked a month since the G7 summit in Cornwall and it got me thinking, what did G7 actually achieve?....

‘The G7 (Group of Seven) is an organisation of the world's seven largest so-called advanced economies. They are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States.’ [1] The 2021 G7 summit was hosted this year by the UK and took place in Cornwall from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th June. ‘The G7 aims to unite leading democracies to help the world build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic and create a greener, more prosperous future.’ [2] In other words at the top of the agenda this year was covid and climate: the two biggest issues facing the world right now.


On June 11th, I joined activists from around the country in Cornwall for the weekend to #SoundtheAlarm and urge leaders to use this summit to create drastic changes and #ActNow for the climate. From taking to the streets of St Ives and Falmouth to art installations and people's assemblies, we came together to urge our world leaders to go beyond party politics and put the climate crisis at the centre of all decision making.

Throughout the weekend, we were joined on the streets by some amazing speakers such as academic Dr. Rupert Read and United for Black Lives activist Marvina Newton. The youth voice had a strong presence during the weekend too with the Cornwall Youth Alliance and Fridays for Future staging the first youth strike in over a year in Falmouth on the Friday, letting leaders know that ‘we’ll be watching’ and holding the summit accountable for the decisions they do and do not make concerning our future.  Lily Stevens, youth climate activist from Cornwall and 19 year old Dr Mya-Rose Craig were also present throughout the weekend taking to the mic in St Ives and joining a delegation of activists from Extinction Rebellion and associated movements to deliver messages from communities on the front line of the climate and ecological emergency to the leaders at the summit. Both activists clearly emphasized the urgency that these leaders need to act with to save our future. It really was a powerful weekend and certainly no holiday for us. To put it plainly, I left my life at University in London for the weekend to fight for my future. 

Okay, well I know what you’re thinking, that’s great and all but what did the G7 actually achieve? And unfortunately, I don’t think those leaders in their glass towers and private jets were of the same mind as me. It is clear the Covid 19 pandemic took priority at the summit with Boris Johnson announcing an extension to the end of covid restrictions towards the end of the summit. I mean rightfully so, the Covid pandemic is arguably the biggest adversity the world has had to face in a long time. However, the climate crisis is quickly becoming the pandemic of all pandemics. 

‘Charities and NGOs expressed their deep disappointment that Johnson, Biden, Merkel and others didn’t deliver on either their plans to vaccinate the world, or to stop the planet from burning.’ [3] Maybe we just need to realise that the world’s richest countries ‘may never let go of their wealth or their grip on power. That their deals mean nothing, and their words are empty.’ [4] Sadly, I can’t help but think that this was just another summit, another conference, another excuse to make empty promises about protecting our planet and putting people before profit. ‘While more than 15 million people in the country live in poverty, the UK spent more than £70 million on policing alone for the three-day summit.’ [4] 

As Extinction Rebellion made sure to point out, the G is most certainly for Greenwash!! [5] Our Prime Minister proved just this in his tweet reading: ‘I’ve arrived in Cornwall for this year’s @G7 where I’ll be asking my fellow leaders to rise to the challenge of beating the pandemic and building back better, fairer and greener…’ [6] This was followed by a picture of Johnson stepping off his carbon guzzling aeroplane, smiling and waving to the camera. Hmmm maybe practice what you preach or take the ‘greener’ out of your tweets PM?

I’m fed up with feeling let down by our leaders as they continue to fail to put our futures first. But this doesn’t have to be a step back. Teach the Future is aiming to attend the COP 26 Conference in Glasgow in November this year. We will be joining many other youth activists and climate led organisations to urge our leaders once again to not only act on climate but to put climate education into the curriculum across all UK schools, teaching young people how to combat the climate crisis and preparing them for the inevitable future they are on track to face. I hope Boris enjoyed the cornish beaches because we’ll be continuing to urge him and those in power to really #BuildBackBetter for the people and the planet. Keep up to date with everything Teach the Future is getting up to by following us on social media @_teachthefuture. There’s lots in the works!

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-49434667





[6] https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/1402659741738885120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1402659741738885120%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mirror.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fweird-news%2Fboris-johnson-flew-g7-summit-24291864