Analysis: does an “uninteresting” G20 have a future? | Political news

by MMC
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Although the G20 managed to get a joint statement, many are disappointed with the results on Ukraine, climate and more.

The progress of the Group of 20 summit in India this year was never going to be smooth.

The conclave which has just concluded notable officials are missing — China’s Xi Jinping, who has never missed a G20 meeting since coming to power in 2012, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who missed the summit for the second year in a row since the invasion of Ukraine.

Relations between India and China remain frosty and many are concerned about whether the absence of both presidents – particularly Xi – would affect the future and relevance of the G20, particularly if the leaders failed to reach a final communiqué.

These concerns were partly allayed when the leaders of member countries succeeded in adopting a final declaration Saturday, but only by producing the blandest possible statement on Ukraine. He did not condemn the Russian invasion of the country and simply “recalled” the statement made during the G20 declaration in Bali last year.

He was referring to United Nations resolutions and the need to respect territorial boundaries. This surely worried some Western officials.

On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who stood in for Putin at the summit, declared it “a success” and thanked the South for maintaining a consolidated position on Ukraine. Russian negotiator Svetlana Lukash told reporters in New Delhi that the joint statement was “balanced” and welcomed by Moscow. She said BRICS countries – Brazil, India, China and South Africa, except Russia – and other allies had contributed to the “balanced” statement.

Although Russia was clearly pleased with the results, Western diplomats might think it was a price worth paying. They must keep the G20 operational. Many Western countries, concerned about the rise of China, want New Delhi – a strategic counterweight to Beijing – to be able to claim that this summit was a great success.

International aid agency Oxfam described the summit as “uninspiring and disappointing”, with no action taken to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change.

Certainly, the summit discussed the restructuring of the global financial system conceived at the Bretton Woods Conference at the end of World War II, which most international experts consider outdated. The conclave raised the possibility of reform, but there is no timetable or action plan.

The same goes for global debt. Many countries are in difficulty and find themselves in what the UN calls “debt conflict”. Relief is needed with provisions put in place for these countries, but no concrete measures have been announced.

The UN spokesperson said the body was not responsible for providing a line-by-line review of G20 decisions. But despite this very diplomatic approach, the UN said it was dissatisfied with the results on climate change.

G20 countries are responsible for 80 percent of global emissions. Yet there is no commitment to phasing out coal, and no timetable has been set.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Al Jazeera at the start of the meeting that he had ambitious new goals for the G20: for rich countries to reach net zero emissions by 2040 or earlier, and developing countries by 2050. But two days later, these commitments do not appear in the final declaration.

The G20 was originally established in 1999 as an economic body bringing together finance ministers. It has no permanent secretariat and no one responsible for controlling how things are done. Since it is a multilateral group, change is slow and incremental. Many experts fear that this will not enable the progress needed to solve the enormous problems facing humanity.

Guterres told Al Jazeera in the interview that he feared a big fracture would ensue – the world dividing into two blocs, one led by the United States and the other by China. This would evolve into a system in which there are two major currencies on either side of this divide, two Internets and two different economies. He said it would be a disaster for the world.

The question is: are we getting there yet? Are we slowly moving towards a world where we have the United States and its G7 allies on one side, and the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) on the other? Xi took center stage in South Africa at last month’s BRICS summit and chose to miss the G20; some fear that this is how things are happening.

Certainly, many countries try to keep a foot in both camps, India being an example. This means that the fact that the world is dividing as some fear may not yet be a given.

The next G20 summit will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2024, under the presidency of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. In this role, Brazil will have some influence on the agenda and hopes to influence the group.

For the first time, the African Union will have a seat at the summit, representing 55 countries, including some of the world’s poorest. Lula’s political positions are well known, so perhaps the issues of inequality, poverty and global finance reform will be pushed even further next year.

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