G20 calls for an end to the Ukraine war, admits the African Union as a member

By bne IntelliNews September 9, 2023

The G20 has adopted a consensus declaration on its attitude to the war in Ukraine, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced early on in the meeting of the world’s leading economies in New Delhi on September 9, saying that negotiators had resolved deep differences over the wording on the war in Ukraine. However, a final text was not released and forging a consensus will remain difficult.

The G20 also agreed to add the African Union as the newest member. As bne IntelliNews reported, including the AU gives the 54 countries on the continent a bigger voice on the international stage, allowing them to better to collectively lobby for their interests. It also shifts the geopolitical centre of gravity of the now G21 towards the emerging world.

Kenyan President William Ruto said the AU’s entry into the G20 will “give African interests and perspectives voice and visibility in this important body,” Al Jazeera reported.

“With Africa poised to grow in the coming years, a seat will allow it to shape the decisions of G20 to ensure the continent’s interests are advanced. The outcome of the just-concluded Africa Climate Summit – including fundamental reforms of international financial institutions and multilateral development banks – is one thing that AU will advance,” said Ruto.

Ukraine sticking point

Ukraine remained the elephant in the room. Most emerging market leaders agree with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s complaint that the unipolar model of running the world, led by the US, should give way to a multipolar world where decisions are made collectively, and the emerging markets should have a bigger voice. However, few have condoned Putin’s decision to use military force to create this world. Most would rather the war ended so they can get on with the job of developing their countries.

Modi gave no details on the compromise wording. An earlier 38-page draft of the final statement reviewed by Reuters left the "geopolitical situation" paragraph blank, while there was agreement on 75 other paragraphs covering issues ranging from global debt and cryptocurrencies to climate change.

"On the back of the hard work of all the teams, we have received consensus on the G20 Leaders Summit Declaration. I announce the adoption of this declaration," Modi told the G20 leaders in New Delhi.

Among the comments on Ukraine that were released are:

Concerning [the] war in Ukraine, all states must act in a manner consistent with [the] purposes and principles of [the] UN charter in its entirety;

On [the] war in Ukraine, all states must refrain from [the] threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against [the] territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state;

On [the] war in Ukraine, [the] use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible;

On the Ukraine crisis, “there were different views and assessments of the situation”.

The two-day summit is being held in New Delhi and hosted by India, the current chairman of the G20, under the theme: “One Earth, One Family, One Future.”

Opening the summit, Modi called on members to end a "global trust deficit."

"Today, as the president of G20, India calls upon the entire world to first convert this global trust deficit into one trust and one confidence," he said. "It is time for all of us to move together." The G20 has warned of significant headwinds and “cascading crises” buffeting the global economy, while warning more pain could be on the way.

“Cascading crises have posed challenges to long-term growth,” the group said, warning: “the balance of risks remains tilted to the downside.”

The G20 also addressed the issue of the failure of the Black Sea Grain Initiative that was suspended on July 17. The halt in the exports of grain threatens the food security of emerging markets in particular.

The members called on Russia and Ukraine to ensure immediate and unimpeded deliveries of grain, foodstuffs and fertilisers/inputs from Russia and Ukraine. They emphasised the importance of sustaining food and energy security. The G20 also called for cessation of military destruction or other attacks on food transport infrastructure as the potential for high levels of volatility in food and energy markets remains, the G20 said.

Mega transport corridor

The summit has already thrown up a surprise after a deal to build a mega-transport corridor from India via the Middle East to Europe was agreed between the US, EU, India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 8. The deal is seen as undermining China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and softening the stance of the newly expanded BRICS+ club towards the West.

The deal could lead to a serious rupture in the G20 and BRICS already, as Beijing immediately signalled its displeasure. India has been trying to “take advantage of its role as the host of the G20 summit to promote its own agenda and harm China’s interests,” a Chinese think-tank affiliated with the country’s top spy agency said on September 9, Al Jazeera reported the same day.

The harsh criticism by the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, which is under the Ministry of State Security, comes after G20 leaders began their two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping not attending, who appears to have been anticipating a loss of face.

The think-tank accused India of bringing geopolitical “private goods” onto the global stage, which it said would not help the country to fulfil its responsibility as the host of G20 but instead would create further problems.

India held two earlier G20 meetings in disputed territories – one in Arunachal Pradesh that China also claims, and another in Kashmir, contested by Pakistan that was included as Chinese territory in a standard map that Beijing published only last week.

“In addition to causing diplomatic turmoil and public opinion turmoil, India’s actions in hosting meetings in disputed territories have also ‘stole the spotlight’, sabotaging the co-operative atmosphere of the G20 meeting and hindering the achievement of substantive results,” the think-tank said in a commentary published on its WeChat account.

Green energy

The Climate Crisis featured high on the agenda and India especially has been suffering as a series of heatwaves have struck the country in the last few years. This year the extreme temperatures have been especially bad, and crops such as tomatoes and rice have begun to fail.

India announced an expansion of its efforts to tackle global warming and in particular the launch of a global biofuel alliance to boost the use of cleaner fuels.

The alliance, with the United States and Brazil as its founding members, would help accelerate global efforts to meet net-zero emissions targets by facilitating trade in biofuels derived from sources such as plant and animal waste.

“We are launching the Global Biofuel Alliance. India invites all of you to join this initiative,” Modi said in his remarks to leaders.

The push for a biofuels alliance mirrors the International Solar Alliance launched by New Delhi and Paris in 2015 to bring clean and affordable solar energy within the reach of all.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also asked the G20 leaders to join a proposal to set up global carbon pricing.

Many countries are using a price for carbon to help meet their climate goals in the form of a tax or under an emissions trading (ETS), or cap-and-trade, system.

“Climate change is man-made. So it means we can address it. For this we need innovation, investments in green technologies, renewable energy capacity and energy efficiency … At the G20 I invited leaders to join the call for global carbon pricing,” Ursula von der Leyen wrote on X social media, formerly known as Twitter.

Unlike the developed world, many of the emerging markets still rely on coal to power their economies. The G20 called for an acceleration of efforts to phase down unabated coal power, in line with national circumstances. It also said it will work towards facilitating low-cost financing for developing countries to support their transition to low carbon/emissions.

The G20 committed itself to tripling renewable energy capacity globally through existing targets and policies, in line with national circumstances, by 2030 and reiterating its commitment to take action to scale up sustainable finance.

The G20 leaders said they recognise the need for increased global investments to meet the climate goals of the Paris Agreement: some $5.8-5.9 trillion in pre-2030 period is required for developing countries, in particular for their needs to implement their emission targets.

The group “will pursue and encourage efforts to triple renewable energy capacity,” a leaders’ statement read. “We commit to urgently accelerate our actions to address environmental crises and challenges, including climate change,” it said.

Bilateral meetings

There were several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he is confident a free trade deal with India could be secured but cautioned there was still hard work to do.

“There’s a desire on both of our parts to see a successful trade deal concluded, the opportunities are there for both countries, but there is a lot of hard work that’s still to go and we need to work through that,” Sunak told reporters after talks with Modi.

Earlier on the first day, Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina held a bilateral discussion in New Delhi. The two countries signed three memoranda of understanding (MoUs), including one on co-operation in digital payment mechanisms.

Turkish, Brazilian presidents meet in India for talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Erdogan was one of the leaders that voiced support for Lula after hundreds of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the National Congress building while shouting slogans and demanding intervention by the army.

Brazil is Turkey’s first strategic partner in South America and its biggest trade partner in the region.

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