G20 summit in Rome. Editorial credit: Kraft74 / Shutterstock.com

Draghi hails G20 a success

Environment News

Acting president of the G20, Italy’s PM Mario Draghi, says the two-day summit was a success. That in comparison to the UK PM Boris Johnson who said the summit was “OK”. All member states agreed on the importance of capping global warming at the 1.5 degrees Celsius level.

Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies made important progress towards tackling the growing threat of global warming, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Sunday.

Draghi, acting president of the G20, said for the first time all member states had agreed on the importance of capping global warming at the 1.5 degrees Celsius level. This is the point which scientists say is vital to avoid disaster.

Net zero carbon emissions by mid-century

The aim is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by around the middle of the century. This marked a breakthrough by comparison with previous G20 commitments.

“We made sure that our dreams are not only alive, but they are progressing,” Draghi said in a closing news conference.

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

Related article: Draghi sounds ecological alarm in Athens

Climate activists criticise lack of action

Many climate activists criticised the G20, saying it had not gone nearly far enough in trying to resolve the crisis.

Charity Oxfam called the Rome summit a “missed opportunity” full of “vague promises and platitudes” that failed to deliver badly needed concrete action.

Draghi also dismissed suggestions that a group of countries, such as China and Russia, had dented efforts at furthering international cooperation over key issues.

“It was a good surprise. We saw countries that had been quite reluctant to move along the lines we had been suggesting and pressing. And then they moved,” he said.

Tossing coins into the Trevi fountain

At the end of the summit, the leaders gathered at the Trevi fountain. There, they threw coins into the water, a tradition for visitors to Rome dating back hundreds of years.

Legend says that if you throw a coin by the right hand over the left shoulder into the fountain, you will return to Rome.

Most of the leaders taking part in the photo opportunity just tossed the coin over their right shoulder.

“Tradition says tossing a coin into Trevi Fountain ensures a return to Rome. But going through my mind was the need for the world to return to the way it was pre-COVID19,” World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter.

The leaders used one euro coins specially minted for the occasion. The coins show Leonardo da Vinci’s Vetruvian man, the symbol of Italy’s G20 presidency, portrayed on the flip side.

Now to COP26 in Glasgow

Most of the G20 leaders in Rome will now fly on to a broader UN climate summit – COP26 – in Glasgow, Scotland.

“What’s happened here is that the COP26 will build on a pretty solid foundation, with respect to what it was before,” Draghi said.

“We changed the language, the goalpost. 1.5 is now universally agreed, before it wasn’t. Carbon neutrality around 2050 has been agreed, no additional net emissions, before there was no commitment whatsoever. We talked about the end of the century.”

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