Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi welcomed world leaders on Saturday (Oct. 30), as Rome hosts its first G20 summit, with the Covid-19 crisis, economic recovery and cooperation on climate action, front and centre on the two-day agenda.
“It is clear that multilateralism is the best answer to the problems that we face today. In many ways it is the only possible answer. From the pandemic, to climate change, to fair and equitable taxation, going it alone is simply not an option,” said Draghi in his opening speech at the G20.
Around 2,000 police officers and 500 soldiers have been deployed for the two-day event, as Italian authorities fear anti-health pass and climate protests.
In 2001, as the G8 summit in Genoa was taking place, anti-globalization protester 23-year-old Italian student Carlo Giuliani was shot dead by a police officer during a street fight.
The G20 summit comes on the eve of the UN’s climate change conference, the COP26, which starts on Monday in Glasgow.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned ahead of the summit of the “dangerous levels of mistrust” between nations. He also called the way in which the speed of economic recovery from the Covid-19 further amplifies inequalities “immoral.”
The leaders of China, Japan, Mexico, Russia and Saudi Arabia have declined to attend the summit.
Still, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to appear via video link.
A draft communique seen by Reuters said G20 countries will step up their efforts to limit global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius – the level scientists have said is necessary to avoid disastrous new climate patterns.
The G20 are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. The bloc accounts for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 60% of its population and an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Few commitments made
Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies have agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming with “meaningful and effective actions”.
But the Communiqué, or official statement released by them made few concrete commitments. It does however pledge to stop financing new, unabated coal plants internationally by the end of this year. Still it made no reference to achieving net zero by 2050. Net zero means reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, until a country is absorbing the same amount of emissions from the atmosphere that it is putting out.
Guterres, the UN’s secretary-general, said in a tweet that he was leaving Rome on Sunday with his “hopes unfulfilled” but at least “not buried”.
A day earlier an agreement was reached on a global tax rate which will see the profits of large businesses taxed at least 15%.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden’s mode of transport has attracted criticism. A motorcade of more than 80 cars on the eve of the climate summit had been winding through Rome’s historic streets. Michael Robinson Chavez, a Washington Post photographer said: “Not exactly carbon friendly.”
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, DW, BBC