Global climate change and the resuscitation of the global economy will be the top issues on the G20 agenda when leaders of the world’s most sophisticated countries convene on Saturday in the first in-person meeting since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic.
In the background of the two-day meetings in Rome will be pressure to make progress on combating global warming before of the crucial COP26 conference, which will begin on Monday in Glasgow.
As a result, the stakes are very high, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminding G20 leaders on Friday that they must demonstrate “greater ambition and more action” while also overcoming distrust in order to progress climate change targets.
Security was tight in Rome as US President Joe Biden arrived in the Italian city, eager to turn the page on the chaotic Donald Trump administration and demonstrate that American leadership on the international stage had been re-established.
However, Biden’s credibility is being tested as his own trademark climate programme – which is part of a big economic package – is being held up in Congress due to infighting within his own Democratic Party.
The host of the summit, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, has asked for a “G20 commitment on the need to restrict the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius” over pre-industrial levels, which is the most aggressive objective specified in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Disagreements between major international powers on how to combat global warming will make the work for the G20 much more difficult.
China, the world’s largest polluter and the source of more than a quarter of all carbon emissions, has been accused of defying requests to halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants in response to international pressure.
With a goal date of 2060 for reaching carbon neutrality, a new plan proposed by Beijing to the United Nations ahead of the COP26 meeting fell short of environmentalists’ hopes.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, on the other hand, has been adamant in his demand that his nation be compensated for the protection of its portion of the Amazon.
Because of its potential to absorb fossil fuel emissions, the world’s largest rainforest is seen as a critical resource in the fight against climate change.
However, a press release from a Friday meeting of G20 finance and health ministers stated that members would “take steps to help boost the supply of vaccines and essential medical products and inputs in developing countries as well as remove relevant supply and financing constraints.” Although no new pledges on COVID-19 vaccines are expected at the G20.
It is predicted that many protests will take place during the summit, which will be protected by a security force of more than 5,000 police and soldiers, according to the interior ministry.
As a result of violent skirmishes that occurred earlier this month between demonstrators and police over the expansion of Italy’s coronavirus pass to all workplaces, the summit is being held away from the city center.