G20 finance summit looms with green transition high on agenda

Venice talks will also focus on supporting poorer countries in post-pandemic economic recovery

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors will face many pressing challenges when they meet in Venice this week as they look to build a post-pandemic economic recovery while accelerating climate change efforts.

They are also expected to sign off on a global minimum corporation tax rate and have been urged by major multilateral bodies to do more to ensure the developing world receives Covid-19 vaccines.

The German Finance Ministry said the G20 ministers would make “revolutionary decisions” on taxing the digital economy, while financing the green transition and supporting vulnerable countries would be high on the agenda.

Italian Finance Minister Daniele Franco said on Tuesday the pandemic had exacerbated “some pre-existing challenges such as the growing inequalities and lack of access to some basic services for large groups of the population”.

He described investment in green infrastructure as a powerful tool in fighting climate change.

Climate think tank E3G said the G20 and G7 needed to show commitment and take concrete steps “to make the multilateral system work to support global recovery and sustainable development” before the Cop26 climate summit in November.

The think tank urged the G20 to deliver on its promise that wealthy countries would collectively give $100 billion in climate finance to poorer nations.

While richer countries, like many of those in the G20, have rapidly vaccinated large parts of their populations, poorer nations have received only a fraction of the shots produced globally, heightening fears of a two-track economic recovery in which the developing world is left behind.

International Monetary Fund Director Kristalina Georgieva, who will attend the Venice talks, urged wealthier countries to step up and donate more vaccines. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organisation, said the G20 needed to “donate more doses right away”.

Referring to the comparatively slow recovery of trade in poorer countries, Ms Okonjo-Iweala said, “this inequity of vaccines lies at the heart of it, which is why we suggested that we need to meet to move really fast to close this gap”.

Speaking before the G20 Venice meeting, Ms Georgieva called on developed countries to quickly distribute excess doses to poorer parts of the world.

“If you have booked more vaccines that you need, move it now,” she said. “What is that we are calling for? One billion doses this year to be transmitted from advanced economies to developing countries.”

The G7’s announcement last month that it would distribute 870 million Covid vaccines this year was inadequate, Ms Georgieva said.

The G20 meeting will take place from Friday to Sunday.

Updated: July 7th 2021, 9:04 PM