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IFANS Focus 2021 G20 Summit and Global Governance in the Post-Pandemic Era KANG Seonjou Upload Date 2021-11-18 Hits 573
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Ⅰ. Key Achievements of the G20 Rome Summit 
Ⅱ. The 2021 G20 Summit and Post-Pandemic Global Governance



As of late October 2021, COVID19, which has infected 248 million and taken more than five million lives worldwide, is still ravaging the world. Nevertheless, the virus is partially under control thanks to COVID19 vaccination, and long-postponed summit diplomacy is returning. Of the resuming high-level meetings, the G20 Summit held in Rome, Italy on October 30–31 has drawn the most attention and significant interest. 
    
Generally, G20 Summit is regarded significant because of its membership and influence on the world economy. But this year’s G20 summit had more significance than usual because it was the first time that President Biden, who took office in January 2021, attended and led the member countries including China to cooperate on unprecedented global challenges like the pandemic, climate change, and global economic crises while putting aside Trump’s “America First.”
    
Besides, the 2021 G20 Rome summit had another reason to deserve special attention; the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, was going to be held back-to-back in Glasgow, Scotland. COP26 was viewed by many as the last opportunity to mobilize global efforts to reduce 50% of carbon emissions by 2030 in order to address climate change which poses the greatest threat to humanity. The importance of the G20 summit held before COP26 lies in the fact that the G20 members collectively account for 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and are ranked the top 20 carbon emitters (except Argentina). China, the U.S., India, and Russia are the world’s four biggest carbon emitters. In other words, if the G20 can reach an agreement on carbon emission reductions, the rest of the world would follow suit. What happens in Italy would be a de facto precursor to what could be accomplished in Glasgow. 


Ⅰ. Key Achievements of the G20 Rome Summit 

The G20 under the Italian presidency chose “People, Prosperity, and the Planet” as three interconnected themes. The Italian government hoped to reinvigorate multilateral cooperation in the face of three concurrent global crises so that the world can build back better from the pandemic with a new growth model that meets basic human needs, reduces inequality, and preserves the planetary boundaries. Thus, it was only natural that COVID19 vaccines, global economy, and climate change topped the 2021 G20 summit agenda. This year’s summit achieved the following. 


1. COVID19 Vaccines

As recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s global vaccination strategy to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 percent by mid-2022, the G20 will take steps to help boost the supply of vaccines in developing countries.


2.  Global Minimum Corporate Tax

In order to establish a more stable and fairer international tax system, the G20 endorses a global minimum corporate tax of 15 percent to go into effect in 2023.  


3. Climate Change

Remaining committed to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the G20 will accelerate actions to achieve carbon neutrality by or around mid-century. The G20 recognizes that methane emissions reduction can be one of the quickest ways to limit climate change. The G20 will put an end to the provision of international public finance for new coal power generation abroad by the end of 2021. The G20 reaffirms the commitment to the goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 and annually through 2025 to address the needs of developing countries in the context of mitigation actions. Policy mix to facilitate carbon emission reduction should include, if appropriate, the use of carbon pricing mechanisms and incentives. 


4. Global Economy

The G20 will continue to sustain the recovery, avoiding any premature withdrawal of support measures, while remaining vigilant to the global challenges that are impacting economies, such as disruptions in supply chains. 


5. Development Cooperation

The G20 welcomes the new general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as the proposals to voluntarily channel USD 100 billion of the allocated SDRs to help countries most in need. 


Ⅱ. The 2021 G20 Summit and Post-Pandemic Global Governance

Taking into account that the 2021 G20 Rome summit was held in the face of three concurrent crises of pandemic, climate change, and economic setbacks, it can hardly be seen as a success. While 70 percent of the population in the developed world is vaccinated, only 3% of the population in the developing world has had a jab so far. The G20 should have responded more promptly and strongly to vaccine inequality. The global minimum tax rate for multinational companies may take considerable time to go into effect as it has to undergo legislation at the national level, increasing the risk of the deadline slipping. Leaders from China and Russia, the first and fourth biggest carbon emitter respectively, participated via video link and thus precluded any possibility of discussion and agreement. The G20 failed to agree on carbon emission reduction and instead pledged to slash  30 percent of global methane emissions in the next decade. 
    
While it is regrettable enough that the G20 Rome summit failed to produce an agreement on concrete issues like COVID19 vaccines and climate change, such failure appears to embody the grave state of contemporary international relations. The divisions within the G20 and its inability to cooperate on common problems indicate that the contemporary international relations are being challenged.
    
First, the importance of G20 as global governance is waning. To be more accurate, major powers in the world seem to place less weight on the G20 summit. The G20 represents the post-Cold War order as a forum including both the traditional Western powers as well as newly emerging powers. However, the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin shows that major countries locked in rivalry tend to place little value on cooperation via the G20 to resolve common challenges facing the international community. Second, the rise of nationalism worldwide has weakened the core principles underpinning the G20, a bastion of free trade and international cooperation. Even President Biden faced constraints in negotiations with the other leaders as he could not secure full support for his climate plan until the end of the G20 summit.        

Lastly, setbacks at the 2021 G20 summit have highlighted the relative importance of G7 as a leading group in the post-pandemic international affairs. The G7 can work as one group based on the member states’ similar level of development, allied stances, and forty years of experience in cooperation. In fact, the outcomes of the G20 Rome summit are a continuation of what countries agreed at the 2021 G7 summit. The recent revival of the G7, in a way, reflects the division within the G20.
    
Needless to say, resolving the crises faced by humanity is a crucial matter. However, the process of resolving those crises matters too. The importance of the process of resolution lies in the fact that it decides the nature of post-pandemic international order. Whether states cooperate to resolve the common crises or leave them neglected in the wake of competition and confrontation, and who will join the efforts to tackle those crises will all become crucial factors shaping the future trajectory of the post-pandemic international order. Viewed in this light, the 2021 G20 Rome summit has offered a glimpse of what a post-pandemic international order might look like.


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