UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US President Joe Biden. PHOTO/UN/EVANS SCHNEIDER
By ROBERT MACKENZIE
World leaders must act now and put the planet on a green path because “we are at the verge of the abyss”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said last Thursday in his address to the virtual climate summit convened by United States President Joseph Biden.
The UN chief said the past decade was the hottest on record, and the world continues to see rising sea-levels, scorching temperatures, devastating tropical cyclones and epic wildfires.
“We need a green planet — but the world is on red alert,” he said. “We are at the verge of the abyss. We must make sure the next step is in the right direction. Leaders everywhere must take action.”
The Secretary-General thanked President Biden for hosting the two-day Leaders Summit on Climate, and applauded US commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
During the Summit, leading global environment polluters who include United States, Japan and Canada among others announced ambitious climate change targets to address the escalating global emergency.
President Joe Biden has promised that the US aims to cut carbon emissions by 50 per cent to 52 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau have also upgraded their targets to more than 40 per cent over the same period.
The move by US government follows President Biden’s election campaign to restore America’s to Climate Change agenda, four years after his predecessor Donald Trump termed climate change a hoax. Trump went ahead and delisted the US from the world climate change campaign.
However, Biden reversed Trump’s policies on environment and immediately acceded to the need to decarbonise the world. Further, the Biden administration directed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restore key climate change information page to its public website.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretary Patricia Espinosa while speaking on the Leaders Summit on Climate Change said the global climate change emergency is a clear, present and growing danger to all people on the planet.
“It recognizes no borders and while nations may be impacted differently, none are immune. This is a time for leadership, courage and solidarity by global leaders; a time they must make the tough decisions necessary to finally fulfill the promises of the Paris Agreement and move the world away from disaster and towards an unprecedented era of growth, prosperity and hope for all,” she said.
Ms Espinosa said the Summit, hosted by U.S. President Biden, which brought together more than 40 nations representing 80 per cent of global emissions, was an encouraging and positive step in the right direction.
“We congratulate the commitments shown by several nations at the summit and I urge all nations to carry forth this leadership and momentum to the crucial COP26 negotiations scheduled for this November in Glasgow,” she added.
President Biden last Thursday hosted more than 40 world leaders in a bid to restore the United States’ damaged diplomatic reputation and to rally nations around the globe to make deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
Biden kicked off the meeting promising to cut U.S. emissions to half of their 2005 levels by the end of the decade. Several other world leaders also pledged to speed up cuts to their own emissions, restore forests, phase out coal plants, and put people to work building wind turbines and solar panels.
The Washington Post said the event, while global in scope, also was aimed at shining a spotlight on Biden’s renewed push at home to transform the U.S. economy, moving it away from fossil fuels and setting in motion far-reaching changes that would affect everything from how Americans power their homes to what cars they drive.