G20 Summit, PM Draghi’s closing press conference
Sunday, 31 October 2021
I wish to first of all thank everyone who has made this extraordinary G20 possible, starting from all those who have worked so hard inside this wonderful conference centre and in the rest of the city over the last two days – the police officers and all the women and men who have done such a great job.
It wasn’t easy to reach this agreement; it is a success and we must be grateful, first and foremost, to those who we call Sherpas – everyone who has worked on the document content that has been discussed and finally approved today.
In recent years, G20 countries’ capacity to work together had diminished, but something has changed and, frankly, this summit gives me confidence in our capacity - which G20 countries seem to have found again - to tackle historic, existential challenges. First of all, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, health, inequalities in terms of gender, income and wealth, and all the other challenges which, over these last few years, we have discovered that we cannot resolve, we cannot beat, alone.
President Biden said we want to remember this summit as being a success, but we must remember that this meeting is merely the end of a year’s worth of work. It is therefore natural to ask ourselves what has happened over the last year and what the G20 countries, the Sherpas and the G20 Ministers, have managed to do. I would particularly like to thank Minister Di Maio and Minister Franco, who have worked tirelessly and delivered the results that we are presenting to you today; you may have seen some of these results over the past few months, but others not.
The international tax system has been reformed, to ensure all companies pay their fair share. This objective had been pursued for decades without ever being reached.
We have overcome protectionism in medical goods and secured more vaccines for the world’s poorest. We have created stronger ties between health and finance, also because this is necessary to prevent epidemics and new pandemics and, above all and more generally speaking, to ensure we are prepared for the next, unfortunately inevitable, health tragedies.
We have laid the foundations for a more equitable economic recovery, and found new ways to help the world’s poorest countries.
We supported the IMF’s decision to allocate 650 billion dollars based on our Special Drawing Rights, dedicating this very large allocation, for the first time, in favour of more vulnerable countries.
G20 countries’ donations to poorer countries, to more vulnerable countries, have come in three forms.
We also managed to play a leading role on aid to Afghanistan after the disaster there. Under the leadership of President von der Leyen, the European Union has taken the lead in these efforts. She immediately pledged EUR 1 billion in aid to tackle what is unfortunately becoming a humanitarian crisis, in my opinion, of very large proportions but that has not yet been fully perceived by us and in other rich countries.
I shall now move on to what I would say are the fundamental things that arose with regard to climate change.
For the first time, the G20 countries have committed to keeping within reach the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, with a series of immediate actions and medium-term commitments. We’ll read the exact wording in the communiqué together later. With regard to coal, international public financing for new electricity generation capacity from unabated coal will be a thing of the past by the end of this year.
Please bear in mind that, with regard to the first point, the situation before was the one addressed in Paris, when we talked about the need to limit global warming to 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees. Now, with this communiqué, all G20 countries have, for the first time, acknowledged the scientific validity of the goal of 1.5 degrees and are making the undertaking to limit their emissions, or in any case to keep this objective within reach, with a rather significant choice of wording.
With regard to carbon neutrality, to carbon dioxide emissions, the situation before was that there was no shared commitment. We are now talking about reaching this objective by or around 2050. This clearly also means progress towards that objective, which had never been set before. So, by that date, there will be no additional net emissions.
Lastly, there is the pledge to give 100 billion a year to the poorest countries for climate issues; 100 billion dollars per year. There was a lot of discussion about the fact that the G20 countries were far from reaching this objective, but they are actually very close. We are at around 82-83 billion. It may be possible - or at least this was a proposal made by France which we supported – to use an additional allocation of special drawing rights to bridge any remaining gap.
In any case, Italy has announced today that it will be earmarking USD 1.4 billion a year for five years, so USD 7 billion in total.
We are proud of these results, but we must remember that they are only a start.
The health and climate crises, global poverty and malnutrition, gender and generational inequalities demand stronger action than we have taken so far.
As I said earlier, how have we succeeded? This brings us back somewhat to President Biden’s words about remembering this as a successful summit. Yes, it was a successful summit. But in what way? It was successful in the sense that we have kept our dreams alive and committed to take further action, allocate additional, huge amounts of money and make further pledges to reduce emissions; and this is a success considering that, in recent months, developing countries especially didn’t appear to have any intention of making further commitments.
However, let us not forget that, in the end, we will be judged on what we do, not on what we say, as the activists, and especially the youngest activists, keep reminding us.
There is a shared commitment to being more concrete and more serious, also in our future actions.