ROME – Britain’s Prince Charles warned President Joe Biden and other world leaders on Sunday that a U.N. conference in Scotland is “quite literally” the last chance to save the planet from the ravages of climate change.
“As the future of humanity and nature herself are at stake, it is surely time to set aside our differences and grasp this unique opportunity to launch a sustainable green recovery,” Charles said on the final day of the Group of 20 summit in Rome.
Prince Charles’ remarks served as a prelude to the climate change conference and came as G-20 leaders prepared to hold conversations on the role of the private sector in fighting climate change and on the need for sustainable development.
G-20 countries, which represent more than three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, are looking for common ground on how to reduce emissions while helping poor countries deal with the impact of rising temperatures.
Biden meets with Erdogan
Biden started the final day of the G-20 by meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who came close to creating a diplomatic crisis last week when he threatened to expel 10 ambassadors from his country. The ambassadors, including the U.S. envoy, had called for the release of jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been held in prison since 2017, even though he has not been convicted of a crime.
Erdogan backed down from his threat, but Biden was expected to raise the issue during his meeting with the Turkish president.
“We’re planning to have a good conversation,” Biden told reporters as he headed into the meeting.
Afterward, the White House issued a statement that said Biden underscored for Erdogan the desire “to maintain constructive relations, expand areas of cooperation and manage our disagreements effectively.”
Biden also is scheduled to hold a news conference later Sunday.
G-20 leaders back corporate tax
On Saturday, the opening day of the G-20 leaders’ first in-person summit in two years, Biden and other leaders threw their support behind a 15% global minimum corporate tax.
The tax plan is part of a dramatic restructuring of the international tax system that is intended to make sure big companies pay their fair share and keep them from hiding their profits in lower-tax jurisdictions.
A formal endorsement of the tax restructuring will come Sunday in a joint communiqué by the leaders.
The endorsement is a victory of sorts for Biden, who is pushing Congress to pass a 15% minimum tax on corporate earnings to help pay for one of his key domestic plans – an ambitious package of climate change and social safety proposals.
Also Saturday, G-20 leaders discussed vaccine distribution and other ways to prevent another global health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 5 million people worldwide, including more than 743,000 Americans.
Only 3% of people who live in the poorest countries have been vaccinated, while 70% of people who live in wealthy countries have gotten at least one shot – a gap that the summit’s host, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, denounced as “morally unacceptable.”
In addition, Biden met Saturday with three European allies – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – to chart a path forward on negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
Afterward, the four leaders issued a joint statement reiterating their determination to see that Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon.
Biden’s advisers have been trying to revive a 2015 agreement that limited Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels. Then-President Donald Trump withdrew from agreement in 2018. Iran stopped complying with the pact, and negotiations to restart the agreement stalled in June after Ebrahim Raisi’s election as president of Iran.
In their statement, Biden and the three European allies urged Raisi “to seize this opportunity” and finish the talks.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
Contributing: The Associated Press