ROME — The Group of 20 (G-20) of major industrialized countries struggled to agree on concrete climate goals on the first day of their two-day meeting in Rome on Saturday, where they also discussed the pandemic.
Leaders had sought to set specific climate targets ahead of the COP26 summit which begins shortly thereafter.
In his opening speech, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for greater international cooperation on pressing issues.
“Multilateralism is the best answer to the problems we face today,” he said.
However, a draft final statement seen by dpa towards the end of the day contained less specific climate statements than an earlier draft.
An earlier draft contained a mention of immediate action, which was removed from a later version, replaced by meaningful and effective action plans to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in accordance with the Paris Agreement on the climate.
Also, no progress has been made on setting a carbon neutrality target, the latest draft showed. While originally the goal was to be set at 2050, there was instead a more general mention of mid-century.
Nor was an agreement reached on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, without setting a target date, although 2025 was initially mentioned in an earlier draft.
The final declaration is to be adopted on Sunday.
Ahead of the talks, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the fight against climate change could be lost if the G-20 did not intervene. “There is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver,” he said.
Leaders appeared to have made more progress in their pandemic discussions.
Italy, the host country of the G-20 this year, was one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe last year.
The G-20 plans to set up a funding mechanism to prepare for future pandemics and ensure the world is better equipped for any future outbreaks, according to outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Ahead of the talks, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus demanded greater efforts to tackle the pandemic. “How many more will die, in this outbreak and in future ones? “, he said. “The answer is in your hands.
He called on the G-20 to quickly provide pledged vaccine donations and support vaccine production in Africa.
China’s state and party leader Xi Jinping, meanwhile, has pushed for exemptions on vaccine patents, attending the talks via video link.
Xi said the World Trade Organization (WTO) should promote technology transfer to developing countries, calling for a timely decision.
Xi also called for mutual recognition of vaccines, a plea echoed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Many European countries do not recognize vaccination with the Russian Sputnik V jab, for example.
Other critical issues were also addressed during the first day of talks.
Leaders endorsed global corporate tax reform. “The landmark deal” will end the damaging race to the bottom in corporate tax rates, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said.
Also among those attending the meeting was US President Joe Biden, while other leaders such as Putin joined via video link.
Germany was represented by Merkel, attending its last G-20 summit. She was joined by her presumed successor, Olaf Scholz, in a show of continuity with Germany’s international partners.
The two lawmakers sat down with Biden on the sidelines of the summit, where Biden thanked Merkel for her work, and also asked Berlin to keep the two countries’ agreements on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
It was one of many meetings held during the day.
The United States and the EU have reached an agreement to end a years-long dispute over special U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, senior EU and trade officials said. United States.
US, French, German and British leaders also discussed the imminent resumption of nuclear talks with Iran.
Iran wants to resume nuclear talks in Vienna in November. Talks to reinstate the 2015 nuclear deal, underway since April, stalled after Iran’s June presidential election and subsequent change of government.
Afterwards, the leaders called for Iran’s swift return to the deal in a joint statement, while Merkel later expressed concern over the progress made so far.
At the start of the day, leaders took a photo with healthcare workers in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic, a tribute praised by Merkel.
The city was heavily policed ahead of two large rallies and a series of smaller protests. Thousands of people, including left-wing groups and climate activists, have flocked to the protests.