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World leaders speak at G20 on climate, economy and vaccines

Issued on: 10/30/2021 – 05:32 AM

Climate change and the revitalization of the global economy will be high on the G20 agenda when the leaders of the world’s most progressive nations meet on Saturday, the first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic.

Ahead of the two-day talks in Rome, pressure threatens to move forward on the fight against global warming before the all-important COP26 summit kicks off in Glasgow on Monday.

Much is at stake: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the G20 leaders on Friday to show “more ambition and more action” and to overcome distrust in order to advance the climate goals.

“We are still on time to get things off the ground and I think the G20 is the opportunity to do so,” said Guterres.

Security in Rome was tense when US President Joe Biden arrived in the Italian capital to cut a page from the tumultuous Trump years and show that American leadership has been restored on the world stage.

But the Democrat faces a credibility test as his own climate policy – part of a comprehensive economic package – is held up in Congress amid power struggles within his party.

At the G20, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping will be absent, who want to participate via video link.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, host of the summit, has called for a “G20 commitment to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees” above pre-industrial levels, the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – host of next week’s UN talks – issued a dire warning of what could happen if the world fails.

“We are not going to stop global warming in Rome or at this meeting in the COP,” he told reporters on board his plane to Rome. “We can only hope to slow the increase.”

G20 meeting in Rome Jonathan WALTER AFP

Mankind, warned Johnson, could regress “at an extraordinary rate”.

“You saw the fall and fall of the Roman Empire, and I have to say it’s true today, unless we get it right when we tackle climate change.”

The G20’s task is made more difficult by the inequalities among the world’s leading powers in combating global warming.

China, the world’s largest polluter and responsible for more than a quarter of all CO2 emissions, has been accused of evading calls to stop building new coal-fired power plants.

A new plan that Beijing presented to the United Nations ahead of COP26 fell short of environmentalists’ expectations of achieving carbon neutrality with the 2060 target.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, meanwhile, steadfastly demanded that his country be paid to protect its share of the Amazon.

The world’s largest rainforest is considered a vital resource in combating climate change due to its ability to absorb emissions from fossil fuels.

– Tax global players –

A safer bet on making concrete progress with the G20 is taxation, as the group is expected to approve the international minimum tax rate of 15 percent for multinational corporations after nearly 140 countries reach an OECD-brokered agreement.

The move is intended to end tax optimization, in which global corporations – including large US technology companies such as Apple and Google parent Alphabet – secure profits in countries with low-tax systems.

The OECD says a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent could add $ 150 billion annually to global tax revenues.

The G20 finance ministers supported the tax reform in July.

Thousands of Italian police officers and soldiers secure the G20 meeting
Thousands of Italian police officers and soldiers secure the G20 meeting Alberto PIZZOLI AFP

Although no new commitments on Covid-19 vaccines are expected from the G20, a press release from a Friday meeting of G20 finance and health ministers said that members would “take steps to ensure the supply of vaccines and essential medical products and To increase inputs for development ”. Countries and remove relevant supply and funding restrictions. “

According to the Interior Ministry, security forces of over 5,000 police officers and soldiers have been mobilized for the summit, and several demonstrations are expected.

The summit will be held outside the city center after violent clashes broke out between protesters and police over the extension of the Italian coronavirus passport to all workplaces earlier this month.

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