A historic first meeting of leaders of the Quad, an informal grouping of Australia, the United States, India and Japan, ended with a promise to boost the manufacture of the Covid-19 vaccine to help low-income countries and maintain international climate goals. . within reach.
Leaders during the meeting agreed to pool financing, manufacturing and distribution capacity to ship 1 billion coronavirus vaccines to island countries in Asia and the Pacific by the end of 2022.
In a joint statement issued after the first meeting, the four leaders called for “transparent and results-oriented reform” of the World Health Organization and said they would work to strengthen the climate actions of all nations.
WHO has made strong calls to rich countries for “vaccine equity” to ensure that poorer countries have the same level of access to vaccines as rich countries.
US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met virtually in the early hours of Canberra time on Saturday. , the first time the four-member regional meeting the group had ever met with heads of government.
The Quad countries say they will coordinate with COVAX, the international vaccine purchasing facility, and increase manufacturing capabilities in India through that country’s vaccine manufacturing company Bio E.
The US Development Finance Corporation will fund increased capacity in Bio E to produce at least 1 billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2022.
In his opening remarks, Morrison said: “As we emerge from this global pandemic and global recession, let’s create a different future together. It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of our world in the 21st century. “
He said a new Quad vaccine partnership would ensure that expanded vaccine manufacturing would be for a “global benefit” and that countries in the Indo-Pacific region would be helped by “vaccine preparation” to address vaccine misinformation and immunization capacity.
Australia will allocate 100 million dollars to buy vaccines for the countries of Southeast Asia. A group of Quad vaccine experts will also be launched to design a plan to implement Quad’s vaccine work.
On climate change, a new Quad climate working group will work to “keep within reach a temperature limit aligned with Paris.”
Australia has faced criticism for refusing to commit to the mid-century goal of achieving net zero emissions.
A fact sheet released after the Quad meeting did not mention a net zero target, nor did it say whether the “target aligned with Paris” referred to 1.5 ° C of global warming or the UN’s commitment to maintaining temperatures. ” well below 2 ° C “by the end of the century.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has previously indicated Global carbon dioxide emissions would have to decrease by approximately 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero around 2050 in order to ensure a limited or no exceedance of 1.5ºC.
The fact sheet referred to the commitment to promote “low-emission technology solutions”, which is the preferred approach of the Australian government.
China views the Quad with caution because it sees it as a “mini-NATO” and an effort to contain its growing influence.
Morrison was joined at the virtual meeting by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and secretaries from the Prime Minister’s Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs, while other leaders were also accompanied by senior ministers and officials.
Suga said that the group had agreed to meet in person within a year.
Some analysts have described the first meeting of Quad leaders as “a historic step” that signals “a new level of political determination to balance together against Chinese power” between the United States, Australia, India and Japan.
In the run-up to the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned against “building small circles” or exclusive groupings, but the Australian government downplayed the potential for further commercial retaliation against Australian exporters.
Last year, Chinese authorities cracked down on a variety of sectors, including coal, barley and wine, amid the worsening diplomatic row, which has also seen the Australian government issue statements critical of China’s crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong and the repression of the Uighur Muslim minority in Hong Kong. Xinjiang province.
The White House had lobbied for the climate crisis to be part of the talks, reflecting the US president’s desire to ensure that all countries raise their level of ambition.
Biden sent a new signal about the priority he placed on the climate by inviting his special envoy, John Kerry, to join his delegation, which also included Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Last month, Kerry publicly acknowledged past “differences” between the United States and Australia in addressing the climate crisis and called for a faster exit from coal-fired power around the world.
Among the Quad group, the US and Japan have already pledged to net zero emissions by 2050, while Australia has expressed a preference for hitting the target without making a firm promise amid pushback from Nationals. India has also not committed to net zero by 2050, but has promised to exceed expectations.
Monday in the US and UK issued a joint statement urging all countries to “take the necessary steps to keep a 1.5 ° C temperature limit within reach, including through ambitious nationally determined contributions and long-term strategies to reduce emissions and achieve net zero.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism