The leaders of the G20, meeting in India, made a gesture on Saturday for Africa invited to join their club, but failed to agree to denounce Russian aggression in Ukraine or to call for an exit from fossil fuels.
The G20 officially welcomed the African Union (AU) into its ranks on Saturday, a strong signal for Africa and a diplomatic victory for India, host this year of the summit, which appears to be the leader of the countries of the South.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also managed to get a final declaration adopted by the summit participants. But finding consensus within the G20, whose countries are very divided on the position to adopt in the face of the war in Ukraine and to respond to climate change, required concessions.
Regarding Ukraine, if the final declaration thus denounces the "use of force" aimed at obtaining territorial gains, the text does not explicitly mention Russian "aggression" in Ukraine, an expression nevertheless used in 2022 during the previous G20 summit in Bali in a reference to a Security Council resolution which had deplored "in the strongest terms the aggression committed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine".
“As for Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the G20 has nothing to be proud of,” criticized Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko.
On the climate aspect, the G20 heads of state did not even manage to mention that they had a disagreement on the reduction of fossil fuels, as their Energy ministers did in July in Goa.
They stuck to the language used last year in Bali, calling for "accelerating efforts towards reducing coal-fired power generation" unaccompanied by carbon capture or storage devices. This de facto excludes gas and oil.
“This is a terrible message sent to the world, in particular to the poorest and most vulnerable countries, which suffer the most from climate change,” lamented Friederike Roder, vice-president of the NGO Global Citizen.
Developing countries are on the front line facing extreme weather events linked to climate change, as well as facing food insecurity fueled by the war in Ukraine by weighing on grain prices.
Brazilian President Lula, whose country will chair the G20 in 2024, again recalled on Saturday the "unprecedented climate emergency" that the world is facing due to a "lack of commitment to the environment".
G20 countries, which are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, have nonetheless declared their support for efforts to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030.
They also warned that investment and financing to combat climate change must "increase substantially" to help developing countries make the green transition.
A French diplomatic source judged "very satisfactory" the language used in the press release, which "allows us to project ourselves towards what should be (...) a just and lasting peace at the end of the war in Ukraine".
The American national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, also judged that the wording of the text, particularly on Ukraine, was “a very good job”.
The G20 in any case attracted a chorus of positive reactions in Africa by announcing the integration of the African Union, which has 55 members (including six suspended) and a total of three trillion dollars in GDP. The continent was until now represented at the G20 by only one state, South Africa.
The entry of the African Union into the G20 will offer "a voice and visibility" to Africa, part of the globe which today displays "the fastest growing", and will allow it to assert its interests and its points of view within the body, Kenyan President William Ruto welcomed on Saturday.
“As a continent, we look forward to further advancing our aspirations on the global stage, using the G20 platform,” the Nigerian presidency, also invited to the Delhi meeting, also reacted on X (formerly Twitter).
The President of the European Council Charles Michel saw it as an “important symbol of inclusiveness” and a “major step for the G20, for Africa, but it is not the last step”.
Voices have already been raised to strengthen the representation of the African continent within certain other major international bodies, such as the UN Security Council.
09/09/2023 17:12:24 - New Delhi (AFP) - © 2023 AFP