G20 leaders wrangle over climate ahead of COP26 summit – EURACTIV.com

Leaders of the G20 world’s major economies approved a global minimum tax on the largest companies on Saturday (30 October), but haggled over the pressing issue of climate change.

In the first major announcement of the two-day G20 summit in Rome, the bloc endorsed a “historic” agreement that would see multinationals subject to a minimum 15% tax, said US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who attended the talks.

The deal would “end the damaging race to the bottom on corporate taxation”, she said in a statement.

The reform plan, already backed by almost 140 countries, seeks to end the practice of big corporates such as Apple and Google parent Alphabet of sheltering profits in low-tax countries.

136 countries agree on international tax reform

More than 100 countries agreed on Friday (8 October) a reform of the international tax regime intended to make it fit for the digital age and respond to longstanding concerns about corporate tax evasion.

But no consensus emerged on a collective commitment on climate change, on the eve of the crucial COP26 conference starting in Glasgow on Sunday.

Hosts Italy pushed the G20 to collectively endorse the UN goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, one of the aspirations of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accords.

G20 leaders agreed on a final statement that urged “meaningful and effective” action to limit global warming and hit net-zero emissions “by or around mid-century”. They also committed to take further action in the 2020s, including enhancing 2030 climate pledges but offered few details on how they make good on those promises.

And while the G20 committed to scale up climate finance for developing countries, leaders gave no details or timelines.

“We saw countries quite reluctant to move along the lines we were suggesting until few days ago, and then they moved,” Draghi said in a closing news conference, brushing aside criticism from climate activists that the G20 had not gone nearly far enough.

“G20 leaders have made substantial commitments … It is easy to suggest difficult things. It is very, very difficult to actually execute them,” he added.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday that the G20 summit had disappointed him, but hadn’t crushed his hopes.

“I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled, but at least they are not buried,” he wrote on Twitter.

‘Momentum’ for COP26

G20 members, many at different stages of economic development, remain at odds over the other major goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050.

E3G, a climate think-tank, said the G20 summit had injected “momentum” into the UN climate summit in Glasgow. For instance, leaders did agree to end international coal finance this year, following on from similar commitments by the G7, South Korea, Japan, China, and OECD.

“COP 26 now needs to turn this political promise into an agreed process,” said Nick Mabey, chief executive and co-founder of E3G.

“We have a moment now when we can try and take some of the nebulous commitments in Paris, solidify them into hard, fast, commitments to cut emissions, to cut cars and coal and so on,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will host the COP26 talks in Glasgow.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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