World Economy

G20 Leaders Fret Over Ukraine, Climate Change

G20 Leaders  Fret Over Ukraine, Climate ChangeG20 Leaders  Fret Over Ukraine, Climate Change

Feuding G20 leaders found common ground on Saturday in vowing to "extinguish" the Ebola outbreak as they worked to revamp the global economy at a summit marked by discord over Ukraine and climate change.

Along with the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, a surprise Sino-US pact on global warming has upset Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's desire to emerge from the Brisbane summit with a singular focus on reviving economic growth around the world, BBC reported.

Western leaders including Abbott were particularly incensed with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine in July.

At one point, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was approached by Putin in Brisbane to shake hands.

Harper said, according to Canadian media: "Well, I guess I'll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine."

However, Putin appeared to use another bilateral meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Brisbane to try to defuse some of the tension, with the two governments at odds over a long-delayed deal to transfer two French warships to the Russian navy.

"We have to do everything we can to minimize the risks and the negative consequences for our bilateral relations," Putin told Hollande.

  Fight Ebola

In contrast, there was concordance at the G20 on the need to turn back an outbreak of Ebola that has so far claimed more than 5,000 lives across eight countries, particularly in west Africa.

“G20 members are committed to do what is necessary to ensure the international effort can extinguish the outbreak and address its medium-term economic and humanitarian costs,” the leaders said.

However, there was no G20 cash commitment to back up the statement, despite appeals from aid groups, the World Bank and UN chief Ban Ki-moon for concrete actions that would allow Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to fight the disease more effectively.


  Climate Change

US President Barack Obama said the breakthrough in Beijing this week on reducing carbon emissions proves that a post-Kyoto deal to arrest climate change is achievable, as he unveiled a $3 billion pledge to a UN-backed climate mitigation fund.

“If China and the US can agree on this, then the world can agree on this – we can get this done,” he said in his speech.

Obama also said the United States cannot “carry the world economy on our back”, urging G20 leaders to work harder to create jobs by reviving up growth in the aftermath of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

A draft copy of the “Brisbane Action Plan” to be adopted Sunday said that, owing to worries about sluggish conditions worldwide, the leaders will agree to reforms that could accelerate growth by 2.1 percent, up from a previous target of 2.0 percent.

That, according to Abbott, will translate into more than two trillion dollars in extra growth and millions of new jobs.

  Putin’s Early Exit?

Putin plans to leave the G20 summit early, a member of his delegation said, after Western leaders blasted Moscow for the crisis in Ukraine and threatened more sanctions.

The Russian official told Reuters that Putin planned to skip a working session on Sunday at the two-day summit and bring forward his departure because he needed to attend meetings in Moscow.

Russia denied it was involved in a recent escalation of military activity in Ukraine, where fighting has claimed more than 4,000 lives, but faced strong rebukes from Western leaders, including Obama and Harper.