Italy hosts climate-focused G20 as geopolitics change



ROME (AP) – The leaders of Russia and China are not coming. Turkey almost sparked a diplomatic incident on the eve of the meeting. And the United States, Australia and France will be at the same table for the first time since Washington pulled the rug from the $ 66 billion Paris agreement on Down Under submarines.

A Group of 20 summit scheduled for this weekend in Rome – the first face-to-face gathering of leaders from the world’s largest economies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – is not going as usual. This is all the more true as as soon as the event ends, a larger United Nations summit dedicated to climate change begins in Glasgow, Scotland.

In many ways, the two-day G-20 meeting serves as a preamble to a 12-day Glasgow summit Roman holiday, with the climate dossier taking center stage in the new Fascist-era Nuvola (Cloud) convention center. from the Italian capital. EUR district.

Some of the participating presidents and prime ministers met at a Group of Seven summit focused on COVID in July, and some passed each other in the halls of the UN during the General Assembly in New York last month. But this is the first time that leaders of countries that account for 75% of world trade and 60% of the world’s population will gather as a group after nearly two years of virus-induced closures.

With economic recovery high on the agenda, host Italy hopes leaders will set a common mid-century deadline to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions and also explore a commitment to reduce. methane emissions.

The United Nations and climate activists also want the G-20 countries to keep their long-standing pledges to provide $ 100 billion a year in climate assistance to help poor countries cope with the impacts of global warming.

“Members of the G-20 are responsible for over 80% of global emissions. So there is a responsibility when they come together as a group to reflect on the pledge of $ 100 billion in annual climate finance that is broken, ”said Renata Dwan, deputy director of the international affairs think tank. Chatham House.

But what can be done if the leader of China, the world’s No. 1 carbon polluter and No. 2 in the economy, does not show up in Rome?

President Xi Jinping, who has not left China since early 2020, is expected to participate remotely, as is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is also not coming and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has not confirmed his presence due to a national election over the weekend.

The absence of Xi and Putin sends a signal that Europe should particularly note, said Massimo Franco, international affairs columnist for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

“If China does not come to Rome, if Russia – which has a lot of energy to sell to Europe – does not join the G-20, I think this G-20 will be a confirmation of the European fragility in the face point of view, ”said Franco.

The announcement last month of a US-UK deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia illustrated Europe’s geopolitical vulnerability. The deal scuttled France’s $ 66 billion deal to sell French-made diesel-powered submarines to Australia, and led a French government to take the unprecedented step of reminding its ambassadors to the United States and Australia.

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have spoken by phone twice since the tiff and are expected to meet privately in Rome. Macron aims to gain the support of the United States for “the establishment of a stronger European defense, complementary to NATO and contributing to global security,” said the presidential palace of the Elysee.

Macron has not spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison since the sale of French submarines took place in the south, however, and it is not clear whether the two will meet in Rome.

Carlo Altomonte, professor of European economics at Bocconi University in Milan, said the US-UK-Australia deal was clear evidence of the shift in strategic priorities and focus on the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s growing assertiveness, in this case at Washington’s expense. traditional European allies.

“In a way, this obliges the European Union to decide, autonomously, a series of local geopolitical questions” at the level of the G-20 and beyond which, until now, have long included Washington as a heavyweight partner, Altomonte said.

Turkey, one of the G-20 members, was able to cast a veil over the next meeting when it threatened last week to expel ambassadors from 10 Western countries for supporting a jailed activist. Four of the threatened emissaries were from G-20 countries, Germany, France, Canada and the United States

The G-20 also includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia , South Africa, the United Kingdom and the European Union. Spain has a permanent guest seat.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who helped save the euro with his now famous ‘do whatever it takes’ pledge, will have his hands full to try to lead the meeting to push for strong climate commitments before Glasgow while negotiating a new era for European multilateralism.

“Not ‘all it takes’, but I think he will try to indicate the strategic points for Europe and how Europe can play a role in this mess,” said the newspaper columnist Franco.


Sylvie Corbet in Paris, and AP correspondents around the world contributed.


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