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G20 2019 Summit Roundup

Posted on: 12/07/2019

The G20 (Group of 20) is an annual meeting of leaders from countries with the largest and fastest-growing economies (19 countries plus the EU). World leaders get together to discuss the most important current financial and economic issues. Together these countries account for 85% of the world economy and two-thirds of its population. This year’s summit it took place in Osaka, Japan and included subjects including trade wars, international tensions, climate change and the fight against deadly diseases and terrorist propaganda.

Theresa May attended the G20 summit for the last time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. As one of her final appearances on the world stage, May called on the other G20 countries to embrace the UK’s net zero emissions target to tackle the climate crisis.

19 of the 20 counties in attendance reiterated their commitment to the Paris accord, an agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.

Upon returning to the Commons after the world summit, Theresa May updated the House; “Those gathered at this year's summit are the last generation of leaders with the power to limit global warming. I believe we have the duty to heed the call from those asking us to act now for the sake of future generations. Taken together, G20 countries account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. […] It remains a disappointment that the United States continues to opt out on such a critical global issue.”

The G20 leaders in Osaka said growth remains low and trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has said that global trade growth increased by only 3 percent in 2018, and is set to decline to 2.6 percent in 2019. To overcome these challenges, Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China said that China would pursue a free, fair and non-discriminatory trade policy, and play a pivotal role in achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive global growth, and overcoming downside risks, thereby preventing trade tensions from rising further, which would have affected global financial markets, businesses and consumers alike.  Furthermore, Xi appealed to major countries to shoulder their respective responsibilities in the face of global challenges, honour their commitments and take concrete actions to address serious environmental problems and climate change.

Theresa May also called on G20 countries to follow the UK’s lead and step up the fight against deadly diseases, supporting the vital work of the Global Fund and its relentless efforts to tackle AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis around the world. 

Founder of the Elton John Aids Foundation, Sir Elton John thanked the UK government with profound respect for this historic pledge, commenting; “This sets an extraordinary example for others to follow and shows that in the matter of saving millions of lives and eradicating some of the world’s greatest killer diseases there is a shared vision and commitment to reach Global Goal 3.”

All G20 leaders have agreed on a joint statement that commits to doing more to protect citizens from the spread of terrorist propaganda online. During her statement at the summit, Theresa May said; “The UK has consistently called for further and faster progress to reclaim the internet from those who want to destroy our values and our way of life. This means stronger action on the misuse of live-streaming to stop terrorists from broadcasting their atrocities in real time.”

Ms. May went to Osaka with a message of support for international institutions and the spirit of “co-operation and compromise” which they embody. But in her concluding address, she made clear it applies to her successor too: “We have always understood that our success as a nation is tied to our collaboration with other countries and the relationships we build. […] I have no doubt that Britain will retain the same strong spirit of international cooperation and compromise that has long characterised our engagement with the rest of world, because this is the only way that we can protect and promote our interests and ensure the prosperity and security of our citizens for years to come.”

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