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Chinese president Xi Jinping’s decision to snub the G20 summit in New Delhi this weekend (9-10 September), has made the potential for progress on critical issues related to financial reform and climate change uncertain.

It took days for negotiators of the Group of 20 major economies to agree on shared language ahead of the summit, as divisions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine have only become deeper over the last year.

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It now seems a declaration will likely be finalised on most topics, including climate change — but G20 leaders have failed to agree on denouncing Russian aggression all year and so far have opted to circumvent the topic instead.

The host, India, has remained neutral and has continued to purchase Russian oil. Xi’s absence has also sparked speculation, with some saying it may be an effort to undermine the G20 as a valid platform for international cooperation.

This will open up possibilities for US president Joe Biden and EU leaders, including EU president Ursula von der Leyen and German chancellor Olaf Sholz, to take the initiative on some of the topics that are due to be discussed, including the African Union’s proposed membership of the G20, the opening up of more climate finance and the harmful effects of climate change.

“On climate change, the Chinese side hopes that all parties can take each others’ concerns into consideration and jointly work for the solution of climate change,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Friday at a press briefing in Beijing.

Stop the harm

African leaders who met at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi this week have called for a drastic increase in climate finance and a solution to the worsening debt problems.

“Climate finance [is] insufficient, inefficient and unfair,” said Mahmoud Mohieldin, executive director at the International Monetary Fund, speaking in an online press conference by the anti-poverty group One Campaign, attended by EUobserver.

“We have been discussing $100bn [€93bn] for years, but all of the estimates show [the developing world] needs $2.5tn [€2.3tn] for climate mitigation annually,” he added.

“I’m hearing people talking about leveraging [public money] a lot, using a great deal of generosity about one dollar mobilising five, eight or even more, [private investment] dollars. But what we’re seeing is no more than 30 cents on the dollar,” he said.

The best solution is to “stop the harm” from debt costs to free up money for countries to deal with the outfall of climate change and “essential” public services,” he said, adding that the “geopolitical environment is not allowing the global community to do the right thing.”


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