The G-20 leaders inaugurated this Saturday in Rome a summit marked by negotiations on how to stop climate change and the pandemic, and by a general climate of distrust and tension between powers – between the United States and China; between the EU and Russia; between advanced and emerging; between France and the United Kingdom – on account of a wide variety of issues. The summit will also enshrine in its conclusions the agreement of some 140 countries to establish a minimum corporate tax of 15%. In his opening address, the President of the Italian Government, Mario Draghi, called on the powers gathered to seek multilateral solutions to global problems. “In many ways, multilateralism is the only possible answer. We have to do everything in our power to overcome our differences and reactivate the spirit that led to the creation of this group, ”said Draghi, who highlighted the unsustainable inequality in the global distribution of vaccines.
The G-20 is a forum that brings together economies that represent more than 80% of world GDP, 75% of global trade, 60% of the population and 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. The one in Rome is the first face-to-face summit since the outbreak of the pandemic. The leaders of China and Russia, very reluctant to leave their countries in the covid era, have declined to attend in person (they will do so by videoconference), as have those of Japan (with legislative elections this Sunday), Mexico (generally reluctant to leave your country) and Saudi Arabia.
Spain, as usual since 2008, participates as a guest even if it is not a member. Pedro Sánchez has gone to Rome and has organized a series of bilateral meetings with various leaders, but not with Joe Biden, the president of the United States, with whom he has greeted and conversed in the moments prior to the summit, as you can. appreciate in some images. The issues at the summit table in an era of multiple turmoil are discussed below.
CLIMATE CHANGE. The summit has among the main objects of discussion climate change. The meeting acts as a top-level prologue to COP26, which is scheduled to take place in Glasgow in the coming days. The G-20 reflects two of the three great key geopolitical groups on this and other issues: the developed powers, responsible for much of the accumulated pollution, and the emerging ones, with less history, but much polluting present and future. The most disadvantaged countries are missing here.
The Italian presidency seeks to outline a final communiqué that will give impetus to the dynamics of reducing greenhouse gases. The points of debate, and friction, are multiple: the position on establishing as a goal a maximum rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees with respect to pre-industrial levels – instead of the “well below 2” of the Paris Agreement – ; the rate of abandonment of coal; methane emission reduction schemes. In the background, the UN warns of the absolute insufficiency of the current pace of ecological transition; a COP26 report prepared by Germany and Canada indicates the failure of the developed powers to comply with the commitment to support developing countries with 100,000 million dollars (about 87,000 million euros) a year; another from the International Energy Agency denounces the enormous investment deficit in the installation of renewable capacity, energy efficiency, and new technologies to get closer to the essential objectives.
The draft of the conclusions being negotiated at the summit, seen by Reuters, points to a formulation according to which the G-20 countries will increase their efforts to meet the objective of not exceeding an increase of 1.5 degrees.
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PANDEMIC. Another of the great topics of debate is the recovery from the pandemic. No tangible commitments are expected, among other things because a sectoral meeting of the G-20 held in May specified measures in this regard. But the matter will be on the work tables, and the rest of the world will watch carefully the signals coming from Rome.
The powers represented in the forum – both developed and emerging – exhibit remarkable levels of vaccination of their citizens. This compares with 4.5% of citizens with at least one dose in the poorest countries, according to a recent WHO report, in what is not only disturbing morally, but also disturbing in itself. virus development perspective. Promises of aid – in terms of vaccines or medical equipment – have only been partially fulfilled.
The movement to free the intellectual property of vaccines, promoted by a hundred countries, has achieved nothing. The Biden Administration, which joined the proposal in a second moment, has just called on the reticent within the WTO – notably the Europeans – to unblock it. The opponents argue that the mere release of intellectual property is not enough, since a rather complex technology transfer is necessary, especially in the case of RNA vaccines; and that the best way to expand production capacity is through partnership agreements between pharmaceutical companies, which is happening, albeit at an unsatisfactory rate.
CORPORATION TAX. Another issue present in the forum is the agreement on the establishment of a minimum tax of 15% on companies. In this case, the issue is already on track by an agreement reached at the beginning of October under the umbrella of the OECD by some 140 countries. The G-20’s backing offers a boost on the road to implementing a blanket pact that is not without its problems.
DEBT OF POOR COUNTRIES. Another issue on the table is that of the debt of the least developed countries, which, in the midst of the pandemic crisis, constitutes a particularly serious problem. The G-20 countries have put in place an interest payment freeze system until the end of this year to ease the situation amid difficult pandemic conditions. The group must address how to develop this issue in the future, and specifically the restructuring of interest payments once the moratorium ends.
BILATERAL. The summit and its prolegomena are also an occasion to hold bilateral meetings. The president of the United States, Joe Biden, met this Friday in Rome with the Pope, with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, with whom he discussed the recent discrepancies on account of a major sale of submarines to Australia, and with the host, the Italian Mario Draghi. Biden is also scheduled to meet Angela Merkel, who will be joined at the summit by her likely successor, Olaf Scholz. Reasons for tension abound, from China’s military advances to maritime friction between France and the United Kingdom, whose leaders also have a bilateral meeting scheduled for Sunday, amid a disturbing escalation of reproach.
PEDRO SÁNCHEZ. The Spanish president arrives at the G-20 with the tranquility of having overcome the worst of the most serious crisis of the coalition in recent months and knowing that the Budgets are almost guaranteed to be successful after PNV and ERC decided not to present amendments to the whole. Sánchez has defended multilateralism since he arrived at La Moncloa and moves comfortably in this type of summits, but the relative international weight of Spain is also noted. American Joe Biden will have bilateral meetings with powers such as France or Germany and with the host, Italy, but not with Sánchez, who will have to continue waiting for that long-awaited meeting with the Democratic leader. Both have greeted each other in the moments leading up to the summit, as can be seen in several photographs in which they are seen smiling and chatting amicably. The Spanish president will be with Biden, although not alone, because Spain has been invited to an event organized by the US within the framework of the G-20, in which the supply crisis around the planet will be discussed with the objective to improve international coordination to overcome it. Sánchez, who comes with his homework in taxation because Spain is already meeting the goal of a minimum of 15%, one of the issues at the summit, also intends to show himself as an advanced student in the climate change debate, where he has a clear position that you have to go much faster in taking measurements. Sánchez will take the opportunity to organize bilateral meetings with the leaders of India, Australia, Canada, Argentina and Indonesia. Yesterday he met with Olaf Scholz, leader of the SPD and probable future chancellor of Germany, and with Enrico Letta, leader of the Italian PD.
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