G20 leaders agree to enhance COVID vaccine, climate change cooperation

The G20 Leaders’ Summit opens on Saturday in Rome, Italy. (Photo/Xinhua)

The solutions and messages delivered by President Xi Jinping to the 16th G20 Leaders’ Summit are well aligned with messages from other global leaders, as participants agreed to enhance the level of solidarity in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

The two-day summit ended on Sunday with the adoption of the G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration. Leaders of the world’s most powerful economies agreed to further strengthen their common response to the pandemic and pave the way for global recovery.

Xi unveiled a global vaccine cooperation action initiative during the gathering. It entails stronger vaccine support to developing nations to meet the global vaccination target set by the World Health Organization.

All leaders participating in the summit pledged steps to help boost the supply of vaccines and essential medical products in developing countries and remove supply and financing constraints, according to the declaration.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked the G20 leaders in a tweet on Sunday evening, but he added that “urgent, unprecedented action is needed now by manufacturing countries”.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after the summit that “China’s initiative has fully demonstrated its firm resolve in standing in solidarity with different countries and jointly overcoming challenges, which has injected confidence and impetus into the early victory against the pandemic”.

Wang, who attended the summit in Rome as Xi’s special representative, said that G20 economies, which are home to the world’s major vaccine producers, can offer a strong boost to global vaccine accessibility and equal distribution if they all act on the consensus of making vaccines global public goods.

Leaders at the summit also reaffirmed their commitment to a global response to accelerate progress on the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to support a sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery across the world.

The commitment was also part of the Global Development Initiative, which Xi proposed in September and further expounded on during the summit.

Wang said Xi’s key proposal has struck a chord with leaders from many countries and the UN, who said the initiative dovetails with the goals and key directions of the G20 in promoting global growth and will help push global development in a more balanced, coordinated and inclusive direction.

Xi also set forth proposals to coordinate environmental protection and economic growth and to give equal emphasis to responding to climate change and ensuring public well-being, which Wang said has drawn widespread support and praise from the international community.

While reiterating China’s commitments to peaking carbon emissions before 2030 and attaining carbon neutrality before 2060, Xi also said developed countries should fulfill their commitments to developing countries in providing funds to help them cope with climate change.

Leaders at the summit recognized that the impacts of climate change at 1.5 C are much lower than at 2 C above preindustrial levels. “Keeping 1.5 C within reach will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries,” according to their declaration.

They also said they looked forward to successful outcomes of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, or COP 26, which kicked off on Sunday in Glasgow.

The leaders also pledged to speed up actions on mitigation, adaptation and finance related to climate change impact, acknowledging the need to achieve global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions or carbon neutrality around midcentury.

Following China’s decision to phase out the building of coal-fired power projects abroad, the declaration set out plans to end international funding for coal-fired power plants this year.

“This is historic. We are rising to this challenge!” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, whose country holds the G20 presidency this year, described the meeting as a success and said “this summit makes me hopeful”.

“Something has changed at this summit. The G20 has rediscovered the ability to face epochal challenges: COVID-19, climate, health, gender and wealth inequalities. And all these we have discovered are challenges that we cannot overcome alone,” he said during a news conference at the close of the summit.

In the declaration, the G20 leaders committed to meeting the goal of providing $100 billion a year to poor countries to support climate adaptation and mitigation “as soon as possible”, saying it was expected “no later than 2023”.


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