G20: what did world leaders agree at the summit in Rome?

Climate change, tax, the global economy, aid and Covid vaccines were all on the agenda as leaders met for the first time in two years

Angela Merkel, Mario Draghi, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson during a photo opportunity of the leaders of the G20 summit at Trevi Fountain, Rome

Angela Merkel, Mario Draghi, Emmanuel
Macron and Boris Johnson during a photo opportunity of the leaders
of the G20 summit at Trevi Fountain, Rome Photograph: Alessandro

Meeting in person for the first time in two years, G20
 had a full agenda including climate change, the Covid
pandemic, a landmark tax deal and global economy worries. Here is a
summary of what they agreed:

Climate change

Leaders committed to the key Paris Agreement goal of limiting global
warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, pledged
action against dirty coal plants, but fell short on a target of zero

“Keeping 1.5 degrees within reach will require meaningful and

effective actions and commitment by all countries, taking into
account different approaches,” the G20 said
in their final communique.

They also pledged to reach a target of net zero carbon emissions “by
or around mid-century”, instead of setting a clear 2050 date, as
campaigners and summit host Italy were hoping for.

Elsewhere in the statement, they agreed to stop funding new dirty
coal plants abroad by the end of 2021, and reaffirmed the so far
unmet commitment to mobilise $100bn for developing countries for
climate adaptation costs.

Leaders for the first time acknowledged “the use of carbon pricing
mechanisms and incentives” as a possible tool against climate
change, just as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is calling on
the most polluting countries to go down that path by setting a
minimum carbon price.


Leaders put their seal of approval on an agreement that will subject
multinationals to a minimum 15% tax
, as part of an effort to build “a more
stable and fairer international tax system”.

US internet giants such as Amazon, Google parent Alphabet, Facebook and Apple – which have benefited from basing themselves in low-tax countries to minimise their tax bills – are particular targets of the new global regulation.

The reform, brokered by the OECD and backed by 136 countries representing more than 90% of world GDP, has long been in the making, and is supposed to come into effect in 2023, but the deadline is at risk of slipping.

Each country taking part in the global deal must first pass national legislation – and US president Joe Biden is among those facing tough domestic opposition to the plan.

Nevertheless, the G20 calls on relevant working groups within the OECD and G20 “to swiftly develop the model rules and multilateral instruments … with a view to ensure that the new rules will come into effect at global level in 2023.”


Leaders vowed to support the WHO’s goal of vaccinating at least 40% of the world’s population against Covid-19 by 2021, and 70% by the middle of next year, by boosting the supply of vaccines in developing countries and removing supply and financing constraints.

They also promised to “work together towards the recognition of Covid-19 vaccines deemed safe and efficacious by the WHO,” after a complaint during summit talks by Russian president Vladimir Putin about lack of international approval for Moscow’s Sputnik V jab.

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 leaders summit

US president Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 leaders summit Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Global economy

Meeting as rising inflation, pushed by spiking energy prices, and supply chain bottlenecks are weighing on a world economy still reeling from Covid-related disruptions, G20 leaders ruled out a hasty removal of national stimulus measures.

“We will continue to sustain the recovery, avoiding any premature withdrawal of support measures, while preserving financial stability and long-term fiscal sustainability and safeguarding against downside risks and negative spillovers,” they said.

Regarding inflation, they said “central banks are monitoring current price dynamics closely” and “will act as needed to meet their mandates, including price stability, while looking through inflation pressures where they are transitory and remaining committed to clear communication of policy stances.”

Finally, G20 leaders pledged to “remain vigilant to the global challenges that impacting on our economies, such as disruptions in supply chains, (and) monitor and address these issues as our economies recover.”

Development aid

Leaders set a new target of channelling $100bn towards poorest nations, coming from the $650bn pot made available by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) via a fresh issuance of its Special Drawing Rights (SDR).

SDRs are not a currency, but can be used by developing countries either as a reserve currency that stabilises the value of their domestic currency, or converted into stronger currencies to finance investments.

For poorer countries, the interest is also to obtain hard currencies without having to pay substantial interest rates.