G20: Will wealthy countries make progress on climate and vaccines?

G20: Will wealthy countries make progress on climate and vaccines?

As the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies gather at the G20 summit in Rome, Italy later this week, the spotlight will be on the climate crisis, vaccine equality, the energy crisis and the tumult of the global supply chain. But analysts warn that consensus on key issues may be elusive.

The meeting, the first in-person meeting of Group of Twenty (G20) leaders since 2019, comes as the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic faces challenges: supply shortages from new strains of COVID-19 and ‘Inflation. It will also indicate how close or how far major economies are moving the needle of the climate crisis, with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sunday.

But Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin expect him to actually join the G-20, not personally, and the leaders of Japan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia also choose not to visit Rome, finding common ground. Huh. Prove it on urgent matters. Even more difficult.

“The G-20, like any membership union, has the strengths of its members,” said Matthew P. Goodman, senior vice president for economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “One might think that COVID-19 would stand the test of a real crisis, but this group of countries is unlikely to agree on anything.”

Financial gap for climate

The G-20 was created in the wake of the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s to give emerging economies a leading voice in global financial matters. The annual Leaders’ Summit became a fixture in 2008 in response to the global financial crisis.

with a list of members Conti With over 80% of global GDP, 75% of world trade and 60% of the world’s population, the club is uniquely positioned to prioritize and mobilize resources to address them.

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Patrick, Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “The G20 clearly has macroeconomic issues as a traditional focus, but global health security and global warming are the main obstacles to prosperity. ” CFR). for al jazeera

A recent report shows that rich countries have failed to meet their $100 billion funding promises to help poor countries fight climate change. But any G-20 climate agreement is likely to give a positive color to the COP26 talks.

G20 leaders may pledge to stop funding coal plants outside their borders, but talks ahead of the summit reveal differences over phasing out coal use at home. bloomberg news (paywall) citing officials informed of the negotiations.

According to the International Energy Agency, coal accounts for about 60% of China’s electricity and about 70% of India’s. In addition to this short-term dependence, the current global energy crisis, along with other bottlenecks in the supply chain, is fueling inflation and providing the opposite direction for economic recovery.

Amid power cuts, factory closures and the onset of winter, China has eased regulations on domestic coal production.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella meets with Joe Biden, President of the United States of America at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy [File: Francesco Ammendola via Reuters]

“In terms of climate, the results are likely to be more gradual than dramatic,” said CFR’s Patrick.

He said that US President Joe Biden would certainly push for green initiatives, but domestic politics could cast a shadow.

“Biden’s stance is likely to be weakened given the uncertainty that Congress will approve substantial green infrastructure and climate-related spending in two big bills,” Patrick said.

split shot

Addressing the growing gap in coronavirus vaccination rates between rich and poor countries is widening the disparity between countries.

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G20 health and finance ministers said on Friday they would take steps to ensure 70 percent of the world’s population is vaccinated by the middle of next year, six months ahead of the previous schedule, Reuters reported.

The clock is ticking. Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund warned of a “dangerous divergence” in recovery between more mature and developing economies, with the availability of a vaccine as a major factor.

Rich countries had promised 1.3 billion doses to poor countries under the WHO’s Global Access Program for COVID-19 vaccines, of which only 356 million were provided.

Earlier this week, AI hurry G20 countries must set aside “greed and selfishness” and ensure fair distribution of vaccines, given that rich countries have around 500 million doses.

The main obstacle is patent protection, which some states want to drop, claiming they get more punches in more guns.

Last October, India and South Africa sent a file Request The World Trade Organization is requesting exemption of patent protection on behalf of a group of countries so that those countries can produce generic versions of vaccines.

The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in Quirinale, ahead of the G20 summit. [Paolo Giandotti via Reuters]

But the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Japan have hindered these efforts. In a shocking move, Biden announced that the United States – usually a staunch defender of intellectual property rights – would support the lifting of patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

“The G20 is divided on liberalizing vaccine trade and exempting intellectual property by developing countries to allow more domestic production,” said CFR’s Patrick.

The G-20 is also divided over creating a global health council to help countries coordinate action. Patrick said the United States, the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom support it, while the BRICS countries, which are Brazil, Russia, India and China, do not.

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Loan: “details of support in principle”

Another driver of the growing divide between rich and poor countries is debt.

According to a recent report, the debt burden of the world’s low-income countries increased by 12% to a record $860 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic. world Bank.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrives at Quirinale Palace ahead of G20 summit [File: Francesco Ammendola via Reuters]

The G20 intervened on debt through the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which came into force on May 1, 2020, with 46 low-income countries benefiting from deferred payments. But the program will end at the end of 2021.

Earlier this week, the US called for rapid progress in restructuring the debt of heavily indebted countries under the Joint Framework for Debt Treatment and blamed “China’s inability to make certain decisions”.

“I think the G20 will agree to expand DSSI,” CSIS’s Goodman told Al Jazeera. “The general framework – which includes debt restructuring and debt relief – I think we will see statements of support as in principle, but it may be difficult for countries to agree to move forward.”

China has backtracked: its development bank wants to be seen as a private lender rather than part of the government. Goodman said Beijing is reluctant to join the Paris Club, a group of creditor countries seeking a common approach to debt restructuring.

“If one country gives up its debt and one country does not, the payment is in favor of the other country,” he said, also emphasizing the need to involve the private sector. If governments gave up debt but banks took it back, that would be a problem.

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