China, India and Russia cannot reduce coal use… G20 leaders disagree over response

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The G20 summit was held in Rome, Italy on the 30th (local time). The summit was held as a face-to-face event for the first time since the COVID-19 crisis. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (from left), French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and US President Joe Biden pose for a commemorative photo. AP Yonhap News

It is predicted that the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, UK will face difficulties in finding solutions to the climate crisis. This is because the differences between major countries on the reduction of fossil fuels such as coal have not been narrowed. At the G20 summit held ahead of COP26, developed and emerging countries clearly expressed differences of opinion on climate change response.

China, India, Russia

○G20 leaders reveal visual differences

According to the British Guardian on the 30th (local time), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who chaired COP26, said, “There is a 60% chance that COP26 will succeed.” At COP26, which opens on the 31st and is held for two weeks, it maintained the previous observation that it would be difficult for major countries to reach an agreement to respond to the climate crisis.

Prime Minister Johnson made such a pessimistic outlook at the G20 summit in Rome, Italy. The G20 summit focused on action plans to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. It was a time to reconcile differences of opinion in each country ahead of COP26, where the leaders of more than 200 countries gather, but it was not easy to come up with an agreement. As G20 member countries generate 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the summit drew attention as a test bed to determine the success of COP26.

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However, even before the start, there were concerns that the meeting could end as a ‘meeting with no substance’. In July, the G20 environment ministers failed to set a time for coal withdrawal, including halting construction of new coal-fired power plants. This is because countries such as China, India and Russia have not contributed much to the disposal of coal.

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, said on the 26th that it needed to build a new coal-fired power plant to increase energy efficiency. China, which is suffering from power shortages, has recently increased its coal imports and has increased its dependence on fossil fuels. Despite pressure from the international community, China announced its carbon-neutral target to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2060, 10 years later than major countries.

India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, has not even announced a carbon-neutral plan. RP Gupta, Minister of Environment of India, said, “India is a victim of global warming, not a perpetrator.” They are evading responsibility by blaming developed countries for the climate crisis.

○ Will there be a specific solution?

Foreign media are pessimistic about the climate change response agreement. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), citing an unnamed official, said, “The opinions of the G20 leaders are divided on the issue of phasing out coal and limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees.” “It raises questions about whether we can achieve our ambitious climate change goals,” he said.

Reuters pointed out that “the G20 summit agreement barely specified specific measures to limit carbon emissions”.

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The G20 leaders agreed on a digital tax for multinational corporations and a minimum global corporate tax rate. The digital tax (pillar 1) allows multinational companies to pay tax in the region where their sales are generated even if they do not have a permanent place of business in a foreign country. Companies with a consolidated annual sales of 20 billion euros and a profit margin of over 10% are eligible. A tax on 25% of excess profits over 10% of the normal rate of return must be levied in the country where each market is located.

The global corporate tax minimum rate (pillar 2) was established to prevent tax evasion by multinational corporations. A corporate tax of at least 15% is levied on multinational companies with consolidated sales of €750 million or more. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the measure is expected to raise about $150 billion in additional taxes worldwide each year. The WSJ reported, “The largest beneficiaries of these two agreements will be developed countries such as the United States. These tax bills will come into effect in 2023 after ratification by each country.

Reporter Semin Heo semin@hankyung.com

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