Leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies on Saturday approved a global minimum tax aimed at preventing large corporations from hiding their profits in tax havens, and also agreed to send more Covid vaccines to poorer countries.
Attending their first in-person summit in two years, G20 leaders broadly backed calls to expand debt relief for impoverished countries and pledged to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against Covid-19 by mid-2022.
However, with a crucial United Nations climate conference set to begin in just two days, the G20 appears to be struggling to support the kind of strong new measures that scientists say are needed to prevent disastrous global warming.
Italy, host of the rally in Rome, put health and the economy high on the agenda for the first day of the meeting, with more difficult climate talks scheduled for Sunday.
Highlighting how the coronavirus crisis has turned the world upside down, doctors in white coats and Red Cross workers joined leaders for their traditional ‘family’ photo – a tribute to the sacrifices and efforts of the world’s doctors whole.
Addressing the opening of the meeting, which will be held in a steel and glass convention center, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said governments must work together to address the formidable challenges facing their people. .
“From the pandemic to climate change, to fair and equitable taxation, going it alone is just not an option,” Draghi said.
The corporation tax deal has been hailed as evidence of renewed multilateral coordination, with large companies subject to a 15% minimum tax wherever they operate from 2023 to prevent them from protecting their profits. in offshore entities.
The Irish government initially opposed the new rate, but obtained an important concession by removing “at least 15%” the reference to the new rate.
“It’s more than just a tax deal – it’s diplomacy that is reshaping our global economy and serving our people,” US President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter.
Here at the G20, leaders representing 80% of global GDP – allies and competitors alike – have made clear their support for a strong global minimum tax. It’s more than just a tax deal – it’s diplomacy that is reshaping our global economy and serving our people.
– President Biden (@POTUS) October 30, 2021
As the world reeling from rising energy prices and stretched supply chains, Biden is expected to urge G20 energy producers with slack capacity to increase production, including Russia and Saudi Arabia , to ensure a stronger global economic recovery, said a senior US administration official.
Like many other G20 leaders in Italy, Biden will travel directly to Glasgow on Sunday for the United Nations climate summit, known as COP26, which is seen as crucial in dealing with the threat of rising prices. temperatures.
The G20 bloc, which includes Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, accounts for around 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but hopes the Rome meeting could open the The path to success in Scotland has faded considerably.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian Vladimir Putin have both decided to follow events only by video link, and diplomats seeking to seal a meaningful deal have said the two countries, along with India, are resisting new climate targets. ambitious.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that the G20 and COP26 talks would be difficult, but warned that without courageous action, world civilization could collapse as quickly as the old Roman Empire, ushering in a new dark age .
“It’s going to be very, very difficult to get the deal we need,” he told reporters, standing next to the ruins of the Colosseum’s amphitheater – a symbol of once mighty Rome.
A draft statement viewed by Reuters said G20 countries would step up efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the level scientists say is necessary to avoid disastrous new climate models.
The document also recognizes that current national plans on how to reduce harmful emissions will need to be strengthened, but offers few details on how to do this.
In addition, leaders are expected to commit to halt funding for overseas coal-fired power generation by the end of this year and “do all we can” to stop construction of new coal-fired power plants. before the end of the 2030s.
Apparently relishing in-person diplomacy after months of relative isolation, the leaders held numerous side meetings, including discussions between the United States, Britain, Germany and France over Iran’s nuclear program.
“It’s great to see you all here after a few difficult years for the global community,” said Draghi, catching the largely optimistic mood among those present.
Away from the conference center, known as “The Cloud”, several thousand protesters staged a noisy but peaceful protest in the city center to demand action to stem climate change.
“We are organizing this demonstration for environmental and social issues and against the G20, which continues unabated on a path that has almost led us to social and ecological failure,” said protester Edoardo Mentrasti.