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Regional and global concern of G20

 

Rayhan Ahmed Topader:

 

The Group of Twenty Leaders Summit 2021 convenes in October 2021 in Rome Italy. For 2021, the G20, under the Italian Presidency, will focus on three broad, interconnected pillars of action: People, Planet, Prosperity. The Leaders Summit is the climax of the G20 process. In addition to the Summit, ministerial meetings, Sherpa meetings working groups and special events are organised throughout the year. The Summit is the final stage, at Leaders level, of the intense work carried out within these various groups throughout the year. Within the three pillars of the 2021 G20, the forum aims to take the lead in ensuring a swift international response to the Covid-19 pandemic able to provide equitable, worldwide access to diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines while building up resilience to future health-related shocks.The G20 is made up of 19 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, and the US. Hectic negotiations are underway among G20 countries to set the agenda for the upcoming COP26 global climate talks in Glasgow and strike a consensus between the developed and developing nations to raise and hasten climate ambitions.On the table is a strong pitch for net-zero commitments, cutting coal use in the power sector, signing up on the methane pledge, reducing fuel subsidy, and upping the national climate targets also known as Nationally Determined Contributions.The developed nations are upping the ante and aim to finalise an ambitious climate action plan at the G20 heads of nations summit in Rome on October 30-31. On the other side of the divide are India, China, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia countries where the growth agenda could be deeply impacted by these decisions. The ‘net-zero’ target is one of them.Developing nations in the G20 grouping have pointed out that this new ambition takes away the focus from and is outside the existing commitments under the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC ) framework, to limit global warming to below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.The Methane Pledge signed last week by the US and European Union has also elicited varying responses from several G20 nations. There is growing pressure for all nations, particularly high emitters like China, India, Russia and Brazil, to sign up to the Methane Pledge a commitment to cut methane gas emission by 30% by 2030.There are serious reservations on the same given that it will impact both livestock and agriculture in these nations. Another key area of debate is the call for decarbonisation of the power sector by 2030. Nations like India where 60%-70% electricity currently comes from coal-fired power plants besides Australia and others which also depend heavily on coal-based power are said to be pitching for a ‘low carbon’ growth trajectory instead.Similarly, there are differences of opinion on the call to stop financing of new coal-based projects abroad, bring down fuel subsidy by 25%, introduce carbon pricing and commit to creating carbon sinks equivalent to green house gas emissions moves with significant implications and cost to economy for developing nations. Suggestions to bring in a G20 based review of implementation of NDCs of G20 nations. Legislators from around the world have gathered on the fringes of the G20 summit in Rome to protest against the presence of the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and urge leaders not to let China off the hook over human rights abuses in return for Beijing’s cooperation on the climate crisis. Many of those at the Rome counter-meeting have been banned from travelling to China as punishment for campaigning against Chinese repression in Xinjiang.They were addressed remotely by the Taiwanese foreign minister, Joseph Wu, who said Taiwan was on the frontline of an ideological war against expansionist authoritarianism. He urged the west to carry out more freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and at a higher level of intensity.Wu is on his first trip to Europe since 2019 and had been expected in Rome, but the Italian leg of his journey was cancelled amid speculation that Italy was unwilling to give him a visa at such a sensitive time.China is trying to destroy democracy in Taiwan, Wu said. Over the past two years we have experienced almost daily and rising incursions into our air defence identification zone and surrounding waters by Chinese military aircraft and vessels. This comes on top of infiltration attempts, cyber-attacks, disinforma- tion campaigns and hybrid warfare.The experience of Hong Kong has shown us how the People’s Republic of China is capable of wrestling away rights that people used to take for granted. The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, was not attending the G20 summit in person. He has recently reaffirmed the reunification of Taiwan as a Chinese goal and increased military activity close to the island. China has described the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac) counter-meeting as a gathering of secessionists.Joe Biden, in an apparent breach of previous US policy, has pledged to protect Taiwan, but there has been ambivalence inside some western governments on how far to hold back from criticism of China in order to gain its cooperation before the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow. Some Chinese diplomats have said there will be consequences for China’s cooperation on climate if the country’s human rights record is singled out.The gathering in Rome of Ipac a body of about 200 global parliamentarians from different political perspectives is the kind of event that will infuriate China. The group is due to hear from Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, from the Hong Kong activist and former politician Nathan Law, and the Uyghur artist and activist Rahima Mahmut. Dovilė Šakalienė, a Lithuanian MP who was placed under sanctions by China in 2020, said: “We are here to ensure that the People’s Republic of China does not get a free pass at this G20. The leaders of the summit must realise very clearly what is at risk when they treat the PRC as an equal member of the club and what is the cost of making Uyghur genocide, Hong Kong and Taiwan bargaining chips. Let us not fool ourselves into trusting the PRC as a reliable partner in fighting the climate crisis, a state that sanctions human rights defenders and is currently imposing draconian population control measures. Whether it is debauching the financial system, disregarding global trading rules, committing genocide against the Uyghurs, trashing the international treaty on Hong Kong or threatening to invade Taiwan the time has come to call the PRC out. How to handle China is a live issue among some of the G20 leaders, with Biden due to meet the French president, Emmanuel Macron, for the first time since the US formed a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with the UK and Australia, Aukus, which excluded France.The US was partly motivated by a belief that France was not prepared to take a sufficiently confrontational approach to China. Aukus scuppered an Australian $66bn deal to buy French-made diesel-powered submarines. The French government responded by recalling its ambassadors to the US and Australia. Macron has subsequently spoken to Biden twice by phone, and is likely to use his private meeting in Rome to demand that the US give a strong signal of support for a stronger European defence cooperation, a long-term French demand.In Germany, China is also a live issue, with the likely new German chancellor, the social democrat Olaf Scholz, under pressure from the Green party, his potential coalition partner, to take a tougher line on Taiwan.Scholz is due to attend the G20 summit alongside the outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel. Germany has been one of the leading European voices backing economic ties with China.Scholz is negotiating with the German Greens on whether or how to make Taiwan feature in any coalition program. Last week the EU parliament voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of a comprehensive strengthening of relations with Taiwan.The EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy released last month calls for pursuing deep trade and investment relationships with Taiwan, particularly in semiconductors.World leaders have been warned that Cop26 must mark the beginning of the end of climate change amid last-minute talks that could help determine the future of the planet. Some of the world’s biggest polluters say they cannot reach the 2050 target date, with China, by far the largest carbon emitter, aiming for 2060 The G20 bloc, which includes Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, accounts for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 60% of its population and an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.US president Joe Biden will attend the meeting in person, but China’s President Xi Jinping will participate and give a speech via video link. A handful of other key leaders from wealthy nations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will not attend in person.The leaders said they would end public finance for overseas coal plants by the end of this year and aim for a largely decarbonised power system in the 2030s, according to the draft.They also pledged to cut their collective emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas which is much more potent but less long-lasting than carbon dioxide, substantially by 2030. This deadline is also in brackets.The willingness of developed countries to help finance the ecological transition of poorer ones, known as climate financing, is likely to be crucial to the success of the G20 and the Glasgow summit. Alok Sharma, president of the Cop26 conference, said this week he hoped the fund would be made available in 2023, three years later than planned, and many developing nations are reluctant to commit to accelerating their emissions reductions until rich ones meet their pledges.A Chinese environment official said on Wednesday this was the biggest obstacle to progress in the climate talks.The G20 draft calls in brackets for additional climate financing, suggesting there is plenty of negotiating still to be done on this issue. Writer and Columnist raihan567@yahoo.com