They must discuss the fight against Covid-19, the global economic recovery, and especially the climate: the G20 leaders of the world’s largest economies, who are meeting from this Saturday, October 30 in Rome, will they be able to send a positive signal just before COP26?
“On all our climate objectives, we have a long way to go and we must step up the pace”, reiterated Friday the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres. It never ceases to warn about the risk of “Climate catastrophe”, pointing the “Special responsibility” G20 countries. This group, which includes the United States, the European Union, but also China, Russia and India, is responsible for the bulk of global emissions. “We still have time to get things back on track, and this G20 meeting is an opportunity to do so”, insisted Mr. Guterres.
Heads of state and government will leave for Glasgow as soon as the G20 summit is completed on Sunday in Rome. However, their ability to agree during this weekend on strong commitments in favor of the climate is not guaranteed. The head of the Italian government, Mario Draghi, had pleaded, at the beginning of October, for “A commitment from the G20 on the need to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees”, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.
“We are not going to stop global warming in Rome or at this COP meeting”, recognized the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the plane taking him to the Italian capital. “The most we can hope for is to slow down the increase” temperatures. In this context, to what extent are the leaders of the major world economies ready to commit to, for example, abandon coal?
Boris Johnson is said to have insisted again on “The potential exit from coal”, in a telephone conversation on Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who, like his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will only participate in the G20 by videoconference. Beijing showed a sign of inflection by promising in September to stop building coal-fired power plants abroad. But China, and with it many emerging countries, still depends a lot on this fossil fuel, which emits a lot of CO.2, in particular to run its power plants, in the current context of the energy crisis.
The only certainty of concrete progress concerns taxation
In Rome, the subjects of the debt of the poorest countries will also be discussed, and the efforts to be made to vaccinate the planet against Covid-19. On the agenda, it is also planned to address the growing shortages and problems in the global supply chain, which threaten to derail the economic recovery.
The only certainties in terms of concrete progress at the end of this summit with moderate ambitions concern taxation. The G20 should indeed endorse at the highest political level the minimum global taxation at 15% on multinationals. The challenge now is to implement this system in each country, which will reduce the possibilities of tax optimization for multinationals and should bring in 150 billion euros in additional revenue. The stated goal is 2023.
Several demonstrations are planned for Saturday in Rome (unions, extreme left, Fridays for Future), for which thousands of people are expected. More than 5,000 police officers, riflemen and soldiers were mobilized. The Italian capital will be constantly flown over by helicopters and drones, and the district where the summit is held has been “Bunkerized”.
The leaders will also take advantage of their return to a large international meeting – the first time since the start of the pandemic – to increase bilateral or small committee meetings. Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, want to agree on a resumption of negotiations with Iran.
Emmanuel Macron, who has already staged his reconciliation with Joe Biden on Friday after the submarine affair, also planned to meet Boris Johnson on Sunday, against the backdrop of a crisis between their two countries over post-Brexit fishing. Argentine President Alberto Fernández, for his part, hopes to discuss his debt with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
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In Rome, the G20 will have to convince on the climate