A security force personnel stands guard next to a hoarding decorated with flowers on a pavement ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, September 8, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: US President Joe Biden and other G20 leaders gathered in New Delhi on Friday for their annual summit.

The Group of 20 was conceived in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis as a way of managing the global economy.

But finding consensus among members has been increasingly difficult in recent years.

United States President Joe Biden received by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation General (Retd.) VK Singh, US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti and others on his arrival at the airport ahead of the G20 Summit scheduled to be held on September 9–10, in New Delhi on Friday, September 8, 2023. Image Credit: ANI

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned leaders that their ongoing squabbles risked stoking conflict and corroding public trust.

“If we are indeed one global family - we today resemble a rather dysfunctional one”, Guterres told reporters in New Delhi.

Even before it began, the importance of the G20 summit was called into question when China’s Xi decided to skip the meeting and send his number two, Premier Li Qiang instead.

Guterres insisted countries must assume responsibility regardless of “whether it’s the president or the prime minister or the vice president that comes” to New Delhi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has painted the summit as his country’s diplomatic coming of age - evidence of New Delhi’s clout and prestige on the global stage.

G20 to G21?

Modi does look set to secure one notable diplomatic victory, with several leaders expressing support for expanding the bloc into the “G21” by including the African Union as a permanent member.

An invitation to join could come as soon as Saturday.

But on Ukraine there was little sign of progress.

United Kingdom's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the his wife Akshata Murty receive a warm welcome from Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs Ashwini Kumar Choubey on their arrival for the G20 Summit, at Palam Airforce Airport, in New Delhi on Friday, September 8, 2023. Image Credit: Rishi Sunak Instagram

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Russian President Putin was “the architect of his own diplomatic exile”.

“The rest of the G20, meanwhile, are demonstrating that we will turn up and work together to pick up the pieces of Putin’s destruction.”

Ahead of his arrival Biden insisted that G20 can still “deliver”, even as markets fret that a trade war between the world’s two largest economies is poised to escalate.

Rumours have swirled that Beijing may be about to ban Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone - most of which are made in China.

Many G20 leaders fear their economies are already at risk of becoming collateral damage as the big beasts of world trade lock horns.

Economists say US restrictions on the transfer of sensitive technologies to China have deepened a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Climate crisis

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said G20 leaders have the power to reset a climate crisis that is “spinning out of control” and urged them to reshape global financial rules which he described as outdated and unfair.

“The climate crisis is worsening dramatically but the collective response is lacking in ambition, credibility, and urgency,” Guterres said in a speech in the Indian capital New Delhi, which is chairing the G20 this weekend.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a media briefing on the eve of the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi on September 8, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Guterres asked the G20 to commit to keeping the “1.5 degree goal alive” - referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting the global average temperature rise to well below 2ADEGC above pre-industrial levels, and aiming for 1.5ADEG.

“I have put forward a Climate Solidarity Pact in which big emitters make extra efforts to cut emissions; and wealthier countries support emerging economies to achieve this,” Guterres said.

The plan urges developed countries to reach net-zero as close as possible to 2040, and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050, proposing a phase out of coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 in all others.

“The climate crisis is spiralling out of control. But G20 countries are in control,” he said.

“Together, G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions. Half-measures will not prevent full climate breakdown.” The UN chief also called on G20 leaders to ensure a stimulus of at least $500 billion per year towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Climate change is among global problems that leaders will address at the G20 summit