Climate, COVID and corporate tax on the agenda of the G-20 in Rome

ROME (AP) – Leaders of the world’s economic powers gathered on Saturday for the first in-person summit since the coronavirus pandemic, with climate change, the economic recovery from COVID-19 and the global minimum corporate tax rate at the agenda.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi greeted the Heads of State of the Group of 20 at Rome’s cloud-like Nuvola Congress Center in the fascist-era EUR district, which was isolated from the rest of the capital city. Saturday’s opening session focused on global health and the economy, with a side meeting of key leaders to discuss next steps for Iran’s nuclear program.

Italy hopes the G-20 will secure key commitments from countries representing 80% of the global economy – and responsible for about the same amount of global carbon emissions – ahead of the UN climate conference that begins Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland.

Most of the heads of state and government present in Rome will travel to Glasgow as soon as the G-20 ends. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping participate from a distance.

On the eve of the meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the Glasgow meeting risked failing in the face of still lukewarm commitments from big polluters and challenged G20 leaders to overcome ” dangerous levels of mistrust “among themselves and with developing countries. .

“Let’s be clear – there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver,” Guterres told reporters in Rome. He said current official government commitments “still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree rise” in global temperatures.

A recent UN report on the environment concluded that announcements by dozens of countries to target ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 could, if fully implemented, limit an increase in emissions. global temperature at 2.2 degrees Celsius (4 F). It’s closer but still above the less stringent goal agreed in the Paris climate agreement of capping global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) compared to pre-industrial times.

The UN chief also blamed geopolitical divisions for hampering a global vaccination plan to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the action “has taken precedence over vaccine hoarding and nationalism by vaccines “.

He lambasted how in wealthier countries people are getting a third dose of the vaccine when only 5% of Africans have been fully immunized.

Aiming to address inequalities, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced upon his arrival in Rome that the UK would donate 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to developing countries. Some 10 million doses have been sent to the UN-backed COVAX vaccine sharing program, with another 10 million to follow in the coming weeks, the UK said.

The G-20, however, will likely be a celebration of a deal, on a global minimum corporate tax. G-20 leaders are set to formally affirm their commitment to establish a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate by 2023, a move aimed at preventing multinational companies from hiding their profits in low-paying countries or no taxes.

The move has been hailed by White House officials as a “game changer” that would create at least $ 60 billion in new revenue a year in the United States – a flow of money that could help partially pay for a set of social services and infrastructure of nearly $ 3 trillion. that President Joe Biden is looking for. Adoption by the United States is essential as there are many multinational corporations headquartered there.

But Biden is struggling to agree with members of his own party on what will be included in the massive spending plan, let alone how he will be paid. The president’s difficulties in coming to terms with U.S. law were not to be a central feature of Biden’s conversations with his fellow leaders, White House officials said.

Biden is also expected to raise concerns about an imbalance between supply and demand in global energy markets, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on Friday on condition of anonymity. The official said Biden would stress the importance of finding greater stability in the oil and gas markets, for the sake of a global economy severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The summit could be an opportunity for dialogue as it includes delegations from major energy producers in Saudi Arabia and Russia, major consumers in Europe and China, and the United States, which is both. But analysts doubted the meeting would have an immediate impact.

So far, Saudi Arabia-led OPEC and its allies including Russia, dubbed OPEC +, have ignored Biden’s calls to ramp up production faster than its current rate of 400,000 barrels per day each month. until next year.

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