Looming over the talks in Rome is pressure to make headway on tackling global warming ahead of the key COP26 summit.
Climate change and the relaunch of the global economy will top the G20 agenda as leaders of the world’s most advanced nations meet on Saturday, the first in-person gathering since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the two-day talks in Rome, there is pressure to make progress on global warming. ahead of the keyMonday sees the start of the COP26 summit in Glasgow
The stakes could be high. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned G20 leaders on Friday to show “more ambition and more action” and overcome mistrust in order to advance climate goals.
“We are still on time to put things on track, and I think the G20 meeting is the opportunity to do that,” Guterres said.
Security was tight in Rome when US President Joe Biden arrived, eager to learn from the turbulent Donald Trump years and demonstrate that America is still the leader on the international stage.
Yet, Biden faces a credibility test as his own signature climate policy – part of a sweeping economic package – is held up amid infighting within his Democratic Party in Congress.
Absent from the G20 will be Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, who plan to attend by video link.
Summit host, Italian PM Mario Draghi, has called for a “G20 commitment on the need to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees” above pre-industrial levels, the most ambitious target outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Complicating the task for the G20 will be disparities between top world powers on tackling global warming.
China, the world’s biggest polluter and responsible for more than a quarter of all carbon emissions, has been accused of sidestepping calls to stop building new coal-fired power plants.
A new plan submitted by Beijing to the UN ahead of COP26 fell short of environmentalists’ expectations, with a target date of 2060 to reach carbon neutrality.
Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, however, insists on having his country compensated for its Amazonian share.
The world’s biggest rainforest is seen as a vital resource to combat climate change for its ability to absorb fossil fuel emissions.
Although no new pledges are expected on COVID-19 vaccines at the G20, a press release from a Friday meeting of G20 finance and health ministers stated that members would “take steps to help boost the supply of vaccines and essential medical products and inputs in developing countries and remove relevant supply and financing constraints”.
According to the interior ministry, a security force of more that 5,000 soldiers and police has been mobilised for this summit. There are also expected to be demonstrations.
The summit is being held away from the city centre after violent clashes erupted earlier this month between protesters and police over the extension of Italy’s coronavirus pass to all workplaces.