At 'moment of peril,' Prez Biden opens global summit on climate

At moment of peril, Prez Biden opens global summit on climate

Washington DC: Saying the United States and other big economies "have to get this done," President Joe Biden opened a global climate summit on Thursday aimed at getting world leaders to dig deeper on emissions cuts. The United States pledged to cut in half the amount of climate-wrecking coal and petroleum fumes it is pumping out.

"Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet, Biden declared, speaking from a TV-style set for a virtual summit of 40 world leaders. "It's about providing a better future for all of us, he said, calling it "a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity." "The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction keeps mounting," he added.

Biden's administration is sketching out a vision of a prosperous, clean-energy United States where factories churn out cutting-edge batteries for export, line workers re-lay an efficient national electrical grid and crews cap abandoned oil and gas rigs and coal mines.

His commitment to cut US fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030 marks a return by the US to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump. Japan, a heavy user of coal, announced its own new 46% emissions reduction target Thursday before the summit opened as the US and its allies sought to build momentum.

The Biden administration's pledge would require by far the most ambitious US climate effort ever, nearly doubling the reductions that the Obama administration had committed to in the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord. The new urgency comes as scientists say that climate change caused by coal plants, car engines and other fossil fuel use is already worsening droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters and that humans are running out of time to stave off most catastrophic extremes of global warming.

But administration officials, in previewing the new target, disclosed aspirations and vignettes rather than specific plans, budget lines or legislative proposals for getting there.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris opened the Earth Day summit from the White House East Room before world leaders, including those from China, Russia, India, Gulf oil states, European and Asian allies and island and coastal nations already struggling against the effects of climate change. Pope Francis was also due to take part.

Biden planned to join a second session of the livestreamed summit later in the morning on financing poorer countries' efforts to remake and protect their economies against global warming.

Meanwhle, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday said that he is confident that the world can build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic if it "builds back greener" and that the richer nations of the world would need to take the lead on investments.

Addressing the US-led Leaders Summit on Climate to mark Earth Day virtually, Johnson pointed to the UK's credentials as the first country to pass legislation for net zero and that it was halfway to its target of achieving net zero carbon emissions.

He flagged a speeding up of these goals ahead of the UK's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November by legislating to deliver 78 per cent of the reductions needed to reach that goal by 2035.

We can do this together across the world. It's going to mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the USD 100 billion commitment that they already made in 2009 and I stress how important that is, said Johnson.

We have carbon emissions lower than at any point since the 19th century, we're ending support for fossil fuels overseas and doubling our international climate finance. We're actually speeding up because we see the obligations for developed countries to do more, we're legislating to deliver 78 per cent of the reductions needed to reach that goal by 2035, he said.

As host of COP26, we want to see similar ambitions around the world and we're working with everybody, from the smallest nations to the biggest emitters to secure commitments that will keep change to within 1.5 degrees, he added.

Forty global leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took part in the summit led by US President Joe Biden.

Next Story
Share it