Boris Johnson meeting world leaders as his debut G7 summit draws to a close

Boris Johnson is using the closing stages of the G7 summit to hold a series of meetings with world leaders including Australian counterpart Scott Morrison the day after England’s stunning Ashes cricket victory.

The Prime Minister was also holding face-to-face meetings with Japanese leader Shinzo Abe, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and outgoing Italian premier Giuseppe Conte.

In the main business on the agenda, the leaders of the G7 nations will consider how to protect the environment, with Mr Johnson pledging £10 million to help prevent the destruction of the Amazon.

But former prime minister Gordon Brown said the club made up of some of the world’s richest democracies was “impotent” because of its divisions.

Ahead of the summit, host Emmanuel Macron said there would not be a final communique – an agreed statement backed by all the leaders.

The 2018 G7 summit ended in farce as US President Donald Trump withdrew his support for the text and Mr Macron was keen to avoid a repeat performance.

Mr Brown told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “When you have got an organisation that cannot agree on a communique, that has got no agreed agenda, that’s got no agreement even on membership, and has broken down, as far as I can see, over the weekend into small huddles of individuals doing bilateral discussions – you’ve really got a leaderless world.

“It is rightly called by some the G Zero because the world seems to be more divided than I can remember.”

At their meeting in the margins of the summit in Biarritz, Mr Morrison – who was invited to attend the gathering as a guest – congratulated Mr Johnson on the Ben Stokes-inspired England victory which levelled the Ashes series at one all.

G7 Summit 2019
Boris Johnson meets Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Neil Hall/PA)

But he was quick to point out there are “two to go” – the final two matches of the series will take place in September.

Mr Johnson said “we’re not taking anything for granted” but the Headingley Test had been “a hell of a game”.

Mr Morrison agreed it had been “a great match”.

Away from the cricket, Mr Morrison said the pair would discuss trade, the UK-Australia relationship and issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the first of Monday’s full working sessions, the leaders of the G7 countries – the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan – were expected to consider climate change and other environmental issues.

Mr Johnson called on world leaders to step up efforts to save endangered species as he announce the £10 million Amazon funding.

The money will be made available immediately to protect and restore the habitat, including in areas affected by the current fires.

The Prime Minister will call for ambitious new targets to halt and reverse the loss of habitats and species, arguing that efforts to protect biodiversity and tackle climate change are “two sides of the same coin”.

Mr Johnson said: “In a week where we have all watched, horrified, as the Amazon rainforest burns before our eyes, we cannot escape the reality of the damage we are inflicting on the natural world.

“The planet faces two immense threats: climate change and biodiversity loss. These are two sides of the same coin – it is impossible to solve one challenge without fixing the other.

“We cannot stop climate change without protecting the natural environment and we can’t restore global nature without tackling climate change.”

But environmental campaigners questioned Mr Johnson’s commitment to the agenda following reports his Government is set to cut fuel duty.

Aaron Kiely, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It doesn’t add up for the Government to commit to global biodiversity and pay the usual lip-service to the climate emergency while cutting fuel duty at home.”

Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner said the “tragedy unfolding in the Amazon should not be used as a PR stunt”.

He said: “The truth is that £10 million is an embarrassingly tiny contribution to deal with the situation in the Amazon which is part of the sustained anti-environment campaign being waged by a right-wing Brazilian government.”

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