The closing ceremony of the G20 summit in Rome on Sunday was a testament to the legacy of that world-class annual meeting of leaders as well as of that very forum. The event, held as part of a photo session, featured a coin toss into the ancient Trevi fountain, with one's back to the pond, in central Rome. According to the (superstitious) belief of the people, those who throw coins into the Trevi will return to Rome. To put in brief, that which leaves, returns to the place of its departure. The G20 is a mega platform that represents 60% of the world's population, 75% of global trade and more than 80% of world's per capita income. The G20 summit in Rome, therefore, should have been the highlight of the city. But every summit proves that slogans of cooperation based on democracy and human justice are difficult to implement in practice. The frustration of leaders and lukewarm declarations of the participants proves that the G20 of Rome was no exception. The declaration of the meet says said that all subjects under the sky were discussed, from sustainable development to bridging the data gap, discussed at the two-day summit and previous high-level meetings. However, in no case was a concrete decision or conclusion reached.
For example, the summit sought to reach a definitive decision, using up-to-date data, on measures involving the Covid-19 epidemic. It has been decided to vaccinate 40 % of the world's population by the end of this year and increase it to 70 % next year. Agreement was reached to ease the way for adequate availability of the vaccine in developing and poor and backward countries and to remove economic restrictions that may hinder it. In addition to Covid-19, the main topics of discussion at the G20 were climate change, international taxation, the global economy and aid for developing nations. But consensus and cooperation that was found on the Covid-19 vaccine or relief fund was not seen in other subjects. All the problems were mentioned and the means to deal with these problems were highlighted by the delegates but no attempt was made on the part of anyone to reach a definite conclusion about them. The most important of these is climate change. This is especially true in the context of climate change, which is the opening topic of a dedicated summit that started on November 1 in Glasgow, Scotland. No one had any doubt about the decision t that the rate of global warming due to carbon emissions should reach 1.5 degrees Celsius in this century alone.
In Rome, however, it was once again clear that everyone was pointing fingers at each other and debating the time limit of climate action instead of understanding the burden of changes that needed to be made. The G20 summit concluded with a non-committal and hazy statement that it would take half a century or more to eradicate carbon emissions. The super-rich powers, who stand as the main 'accused' in the matter, are now moving away from the earlier understanding that carbon emissions will be halved by 2030 and eliminated by 2050. The richest countries on the list, including the United States, have argued that the deadline should be set to 2050. Some other countries, including China and Saudi Arabia, suggest it could be 2060. Some other countries have taken the stand of "them first" and have requested time until the end of this century. Paradoxically, this delay comes as climate change continues to wreak havoc on the very fibre of the world's countries. This carelessness of the developed and developing countries is in determining the treatment of the serious illness that has caused most of the world's catastrophes that can rock the very foundation of the planet that are mentioned in the 20-page Rome Declaration. New generation environmental activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate in an open letter to the world media yesterday pointed out the importance of setting deadlilnes. In this regard, the major powers themselves are at loggerheads with each other.
The Glasgow Climate Change Summit kicked off yesterday without reaching agreement on the issue. It remains to be seen whether COP26 in Glasgow will witness any major changes to the current climate dilemma. Rome summit also witnessed the paradox of even those who actively participated in the summit, questioning its relevance. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is also the host of the COP26 (Conference of Parties) climate summit in Glasgow, bluntly said the announcement made in Rome was inadequate and if Glasgow fails, everything will be in jeopardy. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who hosted the G20, said that everything had only just begun in Rome. The French president was disappointed that they had not moved a step forward since US President Trump had nullified the agreement four years earlier. He also expressed resentment that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was forced to leave Rome without achieving what he had hoped for. In short, the summit in Rome was not only short on hope, but also disappointed those who were waiting for something to happen. As Pope Francis pointed out, it is time to reconsider priorities. It's time for everyone to work together. The world is now watching to see if the Glasgow Summit, which brings together 120 nations, will wake up to this pressing realization, or whether it all came to a screeching halt back, like the coin thrown there, at the bottom of the Trevi fountain.