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Climate, Covid-19 and economy are on the agenda of the Rome meeting


Leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies began two days of talks on Saturday in which they were to recognize the existential threat of climate change, but stop before sweeping new commitments to bring global warming under control.

A draft statement seen by Reuters shows that major countries are likely to tighten their climate action commitments only slightly while failing to set tough new targets that activists say are key to averting an environmental catastrophe.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi hosted leaders of many countries, including US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the first face-to-face G20 summit in two years as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to flow back.

However, the Chinese and Russian presidents have stayed on the sidelines due to their lingering concerns over COVID, clouding hopes for major progress in climate diplomacy ahead of the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow, which is seen as vital to addressing the threat of rising temperatures.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that talks in Rome and Glasgow 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 early on Saturday.

The draft final communiqué says G20 countries, which account for up to 80% of global carbon emissions, will step up efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the level scientists have deemed necessary to avoid disastrous new climate models. .

The statement also said that leaders recognized “the key relevance” of achieving net zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century – a goal to which some of the world’s biggest polluters have yet to commit.

VACCINES AND TAXES

As the climate debate dominates in Rome, much of the first day of the summit, which takes place at a futuristic convention center called “The Cloud”, will be devoted to discussing the COVID-19 health crisis and economic recovery.

Fears about rising energy prices and stretched supply chains will be addressed. Leaders were also expected to approve plans to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against COVID-19 by mid-2022 and create a task force to tackle future pandemics.

Biden will urge major G20 energy producers with slack capacity to increase production, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, to ensure a stronger global economic recovery, a senior US administration official told reporters. .

Biden’s hopes of showing his country at the forefront of the fight against global warming took a hit after he failed to convince fellow Democrats this week to unite behind a program in economic and environmental spending of $ 1.85 trillion.

However, John Morton, the US Treasury’s senior climate adviser, said that the fact that the climate has risen to the top of the G20 agenda marks a remarkable change.

“Obviously, this administration has come back with blazing guns on the issue in a very important way.” he told Reuters.

It was also expected that there would be a lot of diplomacy on the sidelines in Rome, with many bilateral meetings scheduled, while the leaders of the United States, Britain, Germany and France were to hold four-party talks on Iran.

Rome has been placed on high security alert, with up to 6,000 police and around 500 troops deployed to maintain order.

Two protest rallies were allowed during the day, but protesters will be kept away from the center of the summit, located in a suburb built by 20th-century fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

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