G20 Summit in Rome
No Solutions from Those Responsible for the Crises
– Steve Rutchinski –
The 2021 Summit of the Group of 20 (G20) was held in Rome on October 30 and 31. In many respects it was a lead up to the UN COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow with the G20 hyped as the vehicle for the western imperialist alliance headed by the U.S. to lead by example, as “mankind’s hope,” “the last chance saloon” and the like, as if those who are responsible for the crises into which the peoples of the world have been plunged are capable of, or even interested, in providing solutions.
The G20 brought together heads of governments and representatives of the financial oligarchs who control about 80 per cent of the global wealth production. They were called upon by the World Health Organization (WHO) to commit $23.4 billion to “bring COVID-19 vaccines, tests and drugs to poorer countries in the next 12 months.” This is but a small fraction of the hundreds of billions in financing arrangements discussed at the Rome summit, yet the G20 would make no such commitment. Calls for Big Pharma to waive intellectual property and patent restraints so as to make vaccines accessible worldwide were also ignored.
The hype that the western imperialist system of states which dominate the G20, with the U.S. at its head, would lead by example at the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow also fell flat on its face. One of the few specifics contained in the final Rome Communique is a pledge “to stop financing new, unabated coal plants internationally by the end of this year.” No pledge was made to reduce existing reliance on coal-fired energy. For all the talk of climate leadership, the G20 even backtracked on their existing Paris Summit pledges for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Justin Trudeau put the most recent excuse for inaction succinctly when he spoke at a press conference in front of the Dutch Parliament on October 30.
The transcript of the news conference shows Trudeau saying that the fight against climate change can’t be defined by targets alone; they must also be matched by a realistic plan to shift the economy to cleaner energy sources. Canada, as a major oil and gas producer, cannot be easily compared to a country like the Netherlands that engages less in fossil fuel extraction, Trudeau said.
“So much of the energy is around setting the targets rather than digging into actually having a concrete plan or roadmap to get there,” Trudeau said.
In other words, in the name of the climate emergency, governments will use their prerogative powers to fund the projects the oligopolies demand they finance with public funds. Not satisfying the interests of the peoples of the entire world by making sure vaccinations be provided to all countries, is presumably not a matter of having a “concrete plan or roadmap to get there.”
The G20 leaders are not serious about dealing with the problems as they exist objectively. That’s what events like the G20 Summit reveal. G20 Finance and Health Ministers meeting on October 29 issued a communique which says that the COVID pandemic “revealed weaknesses in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.” They have no shame and take no responsibility for the anti-social offensive and demands of the neo-liberal global economy that created these “weaknesses.” These weren’t oversights. Existing pandemic prevention and preparedness plans were dismantled consciously and deliberately. Restructuring public services such as health care, including selling off Canada’s own vaccine production capacity, privatizing long-term care homes, hospitals, staff reductions, wage freezes, etc. all played and continue to play their role in setting the stage for the disaster which Canada experienced with COVID 19. All the “advanced” western imperialist countries experienced similar results from their anti-social restructuring of society and neo-liberal agenda while their super-exploitation of the countries they target with sanctions or keep under the thumb of imperialist financial institutions also cause disasters in those countries, in many cases at the hands of corrupt puppet regimes.
As for carbon emissions, the focus of the G20 was on financial arrangements for the global financial oligarchs to make a killing on “greening the economy,” in the same way they make a killing on war and armaments production. It is an established fact that the U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s single largest institutional consumer of petroleum. Seventy per cent of that energy gets consumed by moving and utilizing troops and equipment around the world. Eliminating U.S. troop movements is one logical place to make huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
A 2019 report from Brown University estimates that since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. military has emitted 1,212 million metric tons of greenhouse gases and that in 2017 alone, CO2 emissions totalled 59 million tons – more than the emissions of many industrialized nations. According to the Brown University research, the Pentagon would be the world’s 55th largest CO2 emitter if it was a country.
The conclusion to draw from the G20 Summit is that no solutions are forthcoming from those whose narrow self-interests create these problems. The necessity for democratic renewal, to put the decision-making power in the hands of the people calls on all those concerned, and especially the youth, to support the protests and actions held in conjunction with COP26, actively demanding a new direction for society.
No solutions can be expected from the government representatives of the global oligarchs. Democratic renewal is the historic necessity for humanity to harness its productive capacities and put them in service of its well-being and that of the planet.