A decisive weekend in Rome. Gathered in the Italian capital on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 October for the summit of the Group of Twenty (G20), the leaders of the major economies of the planet have agreed on several economic measures but are still unclear on climate objectives, a few hours before the opening of COP26 in Scotland.
At the leaders’ dinner on Saturday evening, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said:
“We must not leave to those who come after us a planet in the throes of conflict, whose resources have been wasted. The onus is on us to make a decisive breakthrough to overcome these burdens. The time has come. The eyes of billions of people, entire peoples, are on us and the results we can achieve. “
Two “historic” agreements on global taxation and customs duties
The leaders of the major G20 economies gave the final green light to global tax reform on Saturday in Rome. This “Historic agreement”, in the words of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, notably plans to introduce a minimum tax of 15% for multinationals, with the objective of implementation by 2023. “For four years, I have been fighting to implement an international tax of at least 15% for multinational companies. Tonight, we are there! “, welcomed the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted ” a great success “ and “A clear signal of fairness”.
In Rome, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo unveiled another deal described as“Historical”, this time to lift certain tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that poisoned trade relations between Washington and Brussels since the imposition of these taxes by the administration of the former President of the United States Donald Trump. This should allow “Limited quantities of European imports of steel and aluminum to enter the United States duty free”, she clarified.
A warming target maintained at + 1.5 ° C
The G20 reaffirmed the objective of the Paris agreement which is to maintain warming “Well below” of + 2 ° C, if possible at + 1.5 ° C, compared to the pre-industrial era. A ceiling which has in fact become the priority objective since then. But, in their statement, the countries wanted to go a little further by adding that “Keep [l’objectif de] 1.5 ° C at range will require[it] meaningful and effective actions and commitments from all countries ”.
The G20, which includes developed countries like the United States and members of the European Union, but also large emerging economies like China, Russia, Brazil or India, represents 80% of global gas emissions. Greenhouse effect. “Their response will be decisive in keeping [l’objectif de] 1.5 ° C accessible “, said Alok Sharma, a British conservative politician appointed president of COP26.
According to the latest UN assessment, which takes into account the new commitments of a majority of signatory countries, the world is still heading towards warming “Catastrophic” of + 2.7 ° C. Or, at best, + 2.2 ° C, if we take into account the promises often “Waves” of carbon neutrality for the middle of the century.
“The middle of the century” is precisely the wording adopted by the G20 in the final document. A horizon less precise than the date of 2050 desired in particular by the Italian presidency of the G20, “But quite significant, considering the diversity of the countries participating in the G20”, according to the French presidency, which evokes “A common goal”.
COP26 is “The last and the best hope” to succeed in limiting global warming to + 1.5 ° C, declared the president of the conference, Alok Sharma, at the opening of the latter in Scotland. During the Covid-19 pandemic, “Climate change has not taken a vacation. All the lights are red on the climate dashboard », he added, on the first day of two weeks of a meeting considered crucial for the future of humanity.
End of subsidies for new international coal plants by the end of 2021
G20 countries have also agreed to stop subsidizing new overseas coal-fired power plant projects. “We will end international public funding for new coal-fired power plants by the end of 2021”, specifies the final text. However, they did not set any clear targets for the phase-out of coal at the national level. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, had recognized earlier that the question was difficult in particular “For certain coal dependent countries”.
The G20 was held without China – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases ahead of the United States – nor Russia, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin being held in their respective countries because of the health situation. They intervened by videoconference, but their empty chairs in Rome made some fear a missed date with history.
Beijing nonetheless showed a sign of inflection by promising, in September, to stop building coal-fired power plants abroad. But China is still very dependent on this very CO-emitting fossil fuel.2, in particular to run its power plants in the current context of the energy crisis. The future of coal, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been one of the issues on which G20 members have struggled to agree.
$ 100 billion in IMF funds earmarked for vulnerable countries
The G20 countries have pledged to return to vulnerable countries 100 billion dollars (about 86.5 billion euros), out of the total amount of 650 billion dollars of special drawing rights (SDRs) issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The stated objective being to face the crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the final draft text. SDRs are distributed according to each country’s share of the IMF, so the largest goes to the richest countries. On paper, Africa would only benefit from $ 34 billion, hence the idea of some developed countries to donate their share to the most vulnerable.
“We welcome recent pledges worth around $ 45 billion as a step towards a total global ambition of $ 100 billion in voluntary contributions for countries most in need.”, the executives said.
France has already committed to “Redirect 20% of the money it receives from the IMF to the African continent”, according to the announcement made by President Emmanuel Macron. A similar pledge of 20% of its SDR has been made by the UK, and Japan has pledged $ 4 billion.
Finally, the final communiqué recognizes “Importance” to provide developing countries with the $ 100 billion per year that rich countries pledged 12 years ago to pay them from 2020 to help them fight against the consequences of climate change. A promise that they have not kept so far, which worsens the crisis of confidence at the global level, as the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres deplored on Friday. Leaving Italy for Scotland where the COP26 is being held, he said Sunday on Twitter :
“I am leaving Rome with unfulfilled hopes but at least they are not buried. “