Climate set to dominate G20 summit ahead of U.N. conference - Reuters News Agency

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Climate set to dominate G20 summit ahead of U.N. conference

ROME (Reuters) – If high-stakes climate talks are to succeed next month in Glasgow, the initial signs of progress may emerge this weekend when leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies hold their first face-to-face meeting in two years.

Big obstacles lie in the way. The G20 is divided over questions such as phasing out coal and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), giving diplomats little time to forge an accord before the Oct. 30-31 gathering.

Many of the leaders coming to Rome, including U.S. President Joe Biden, will fly immediately afterwards to Scotland for the United Nation’s climate summit, known as COP26, which is seen as vital to tackling the threat of rising temperatures.

The COP26 involves almost 200 countries, but the G20 bloc, which includes Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, is the dominant force, accounting for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 60% of its population and an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“The time has passed for diplomatic niceties. If governments, especially G20 governments, do not stand up and lead this effort, we are headed for terrible human suffering,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week.

In a setback to hopes of a robust G20 response, Biden’s expectations of heading to Europe with a strong domestic deal on climate policy have diminished greatly because of political divisions over a broader spending package.

To the further disappointment of hosts Italy, the leaders of China, Japan, Mexico, Russia and Saudi Arabia have declined to attend the meeting, which will be held in a Rome suburb called EUR that was built by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are reported to have pulled out because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, but are expected to follow the discussions via a video link, diplomats said.

PANDEMIC

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COVID-19 meant last year’s G20 summit was a virtual event and continued fallout from the health emergency will feature prominently in the Rome talks, with Italy keen for major economies to coordinate the global recovery.

Fears over rising energy prices and stretched supply chains are likely to be addressed, as is the need for reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

G20 leaders will also sign off on a minimum global tax rate of 15% for big companies – a deal that was finalised earlier this month and that Italy has hailed as a major achievement of its year-long G20 presidency.

Italy has likewise said it is proud of a summit it organised in May that resulted in pledges from rich nations for hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for poorer regions, as well as a deal to channel International Monetary Fund emergency reserves to impoverished countries.

“Given the international situation, I think Italy can be satisfied with its G20 presidency. But hopefully further agreements can be reached over decarbonisation,” said Antonio Villafranca, director of studies at the Italian Institute of International Policy Studies.

One area where Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi aims to find consensus is a pledge to slash methane emissions by 30% by 2030 against 2020 levels – another element in the battle to curb greenhouse gases responsible for warming the Earth’s atmosphere.

One of the trickiest negotiations will concern the need for rich nations to honour a 2009 pledge to provide poor ones with $100 billion per year to help them adapt to climate change.

In 2015 they agreed to extend this goal through to 2025 but the target, which some poor countries and climate activists now say is insufficient, has yet to be met.

The talks will take place in a futurist convention centre called ‘The Cloud’, with social events scheduled at some of the historic sites that dot central Rome, including a gala dinner in the president’s palace.

The interior ministry has said between 5,000 and 6,000 police along with some 500 soldiers will be deployed to ensure security. Airspace will be closed over Rome and border controls will be enhanced to try to keep away potential troublemakers.

PARIS (Reuters) -Lionel Messi said on Wednesday he wanted to power Paris St Germain to their first Champions League trophy, putting the tearful farewell he bade to Barcelona behind him after signing a two-year contract with the deep-pocketed French soccer powerhouse.

Messi joined the star-studded PSG as a free agent after Barcelona, where he begun and always imagined he would play out his career, acknowledged last week they could no longer afford him.

Thousands of PSG fans thronged the side’s Parc des Princes stadium, daring to believe their team would now deliver the Champions League having hoovered up domestic titles since free-spending owners Qatar Sports Investment European arrived in 2011 but always fallen short of European soccer’s top prize.

Messi said he was hungry to add more Champions League titles to the four he won with Barcelona.

“That’s why I am here (to win trophies). It’s an ambitious club,” Messi told a news conference.

After years of failing to get beyond the quarter-finals, PSG finally reached the final in 2020, but lost to Bayern Munich, while last season they went out in the semi-finals.

“My dream is to win another Champions League, and I think this is the ideal place to be to do that,” added Messi, who in a nod to his first squad number in senior football at Barcelona will wear the No. 30 jersey at PSG.

The Argentine conceded he did not know when he would make his debut, having not played since winning the Copa America with his country last month.

“I’m coming back from holiday. I need a bit of a pre-season to get myself going,” he said.

FAIR PLAY RULES

Messi will join former Barca team mate Neymar in Paris.

The Brazilian left Catalonia for the French capital in a world record 222 million euro ($259.94 million) deal in 2017, but never hid his desire to link up with his close friend once again on the pitch.

They will now line up with French Word Cup-winner Kylian Mbappe in a potent front-three attack.

“To play with the likes of Neymar and Mbappe is insane,” Messi continued.

France’s top soccer league has always been perceived as the poorer cousin to top flight leagues in neighbouring England, Germany, Spain and Italy.

PSG’s Qatari money is enabling PSG to compete at their level, though much of the rest of the league is way adrift in terms of resources. In unusual comments praising a club’s transfer dealings, Ligue 1 President Vincent Labrune celebrated Messi’s signing as a big win for French soccer.

“The arrival of Messi will bolster the attractiveness and visibility of our championship across continents,” Labrune said in a statement. He thanked the club’s owners for creating what he called one of sport’s biggest franchises globally.

However, some commentators have asked how PSG could afford to sign Messi within the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA.

UEFA’s FFP rules are designed to prevent clubs spending more than they earn. Spain’s La Liga’s own FFP rules are more stringent than UEFA’s, with each club given a salary cap they must adhere to.

“We’re always attentive to Financial Fair Play. It’s the first thing we check with the commercial, financial and legal people before signing someone,” PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi told the same news conference.

“MAGICIAN”

Messi held up his new shirt to thousands of fans outside the stadium, waving shyly as they beat drums, released smoke flares and chanted his name.

Local fan Nelson Dross, 17, told Reuters: “Why do I love him? Because he makes us dream. He’s a magician, a genius.”

Messi wept on Sunday as he told Barcelona fans he was leaving his childhood club.

“I’ll always be thankful to Barca and their fans. I went there as a boy, and we had some good and bad times,” he said on Wednesday.

Asked how he would feel if the time came to square up against his old club, he replied: “It would be nice on the one hand to face them in the Champions League, especially with fans, but on the other strange to go back to my home in another team’s shirt – but that’s football.”

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