G20 leaders fight over Covid and climate

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Leaders of the world’s major economies met yesterday at the G20 summit in Rome, heading towards a new global tax deal, but continuing to haggle over the urgent issue of climate change.

At their first in-person rally in two years, G20 leaders expressed “broad, multi-party support” for a minimum tax rate of 15% for the largest multinationals, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

The reform plan, which aims to end the practice of large companies such as Apple and Google’s parent company Alphabet, to protect profits in low-tax countries, has been supported by nearly 140 countries and is expected to be officially endorsed in the G20 communiqué today.

But no consensus had yet emerged on a collective commitment on climate change, on the eve of the crucial COP26 conference which begins today in Glasgow.

Host country Italy wants the G20 to collectively endorse the UN target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, one of the aspirations of the Paris climate accords from 2015.

But G20 members, many at different stages of economic development, disagree on the other major goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

“We now have a moment where we can try to make some of the nebulous commitments in Paris, solidify them into hard and quick commitments to cut emissions, cut cars and coal, etc.,” said UK Prime Minister Boris. Johnson, who will host the Glasgow talks.

European Council President Charles Michel said the “next few hours” would be crucial, adding: “I understand that for some coal dependent countries this is difficult to accept”.

The stakes are high, as the G20 – which includes China, the United States, India, the EU and Russia – accounts for 80 percent of global GDP and nearly 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. tight.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday warned leaders to show “more ambition and more action” and overcome mistrust in order to advance climate goals.

As leaders gathered, hundreds of climate protesters gathered in the city center to demand tougher action.

“We are asking the leaders of the G20 to stop playing among themselves and finally to listen to the people and to act for the climate, as science has been asking for years,” Simone Ficicchia, activist for the AFP, told AFP. Fridays for Future.

Another key topic in the discussions is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with Xi and Putin raising the issue of uneven vaccine distribution in their comments to the group via video link.

Putin blamed the disparities on “dishonest competition, protectionism and the fact that some states, especially those in the G20, are not ready for mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates,” in his speech broadcast on US TV. Russian state.

No new commitments are expected to close the vast gap in access to the Covid-19 vaccine between rich and poor countries.

But summit host Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy, said the G20 should “do everything in our power” to meet WHO’s target of immunizing 70% of the world’s population by mid-2022.

According to a source who followed the summit discussions, “all leaders” have agreed to commit to this goal.

The meeting was the occasion for a flurry of bilateral talks between G20 leaders, including Biden, who hopes to reaffirm American leadership after Trump’s tumultuous years.

He met with Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks on Iran, after Tehran said it would resume talks with world powers next month on relaunching the nuclear deal. from 2015.

On Friday, Biden met Pope Francis and had a tête-à-tête with Macron where he admitted Washington had been “awkward” in handling a submarine deal with Australia and Britain which left Paris in the cold.

Yet the Democrat faces a credibility test as his signature climate policy – which is part of a broad economic package – hangs amid infighting within his party in Congress.


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