Biden likely to unveil plan to cut emissions at climate summit

Published April 22, 2021
In this file photo taken on November 10, 2020, United States President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware. — AFP/File
In this file photo taken on November 10, 2020, United States President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: US Presi­dent Joe Biden will host a global climate summit on Thursday and Friday, during which he is expected to unveil a plan to cut carbon emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030, from 2005 levels.

“We expect action at this meeting. We’re looking for people to make announcements to raise their ambition to indicate next steps that they intend to take to help solve the climate problem,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Wednesday.

UN Secretary General Ant­o­nio Guterres has called the summit a “make it or break it” moment for climate action, hoping that Mr Bid­en’s expected announcement would unlock similar action from the world’s other large emitters.

The European Union, which is also participating in the summit, announced a provisional deal on Wednesday to slash the bloc’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030. Special Assistant on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam is expe­cted to represent Pakistan at the virtual meeting.

The United States, which is the world’s second-biggest carbon emitter, behind China, also expects Beijing to present its own plan for reducing pollution.

The UN chief said that if the United States announced its plan to reduce carbon emissions by half, others would follow. “I have no doubt that it will have very important consequences in relation to Japan, in relation to China, in relation to Russia — in relation to other areas of the world that have not yet entirely defined these levels,” he said.

President Biden said in a tweet on Tuesday that his plan to create 10 million jobs in the clean energy sector would show the path to protect the environment without hurting economic progress.

“Imagine a future where we lead the world and tackle the threat of climate change with American jobs and ingenuity,” he wrote. “We can make that future a reality.”

The US president has invi­ted 40 world leaders to the virtual summit, sending his climate envoy John Kerry to some of those leaders before the summit to pave the way for a global understanding.

The US media described the summit as an opportunity for Washington to rejoin global efforts to address climate change after the Trump administration pulled the country from the Paris climate. A World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report, released this week, noted that the global average temperature in 2020 was about 1.2-degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level.

That figure is dangerously close to the 1.5-degree Celsius limit advocated by scientists to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record, and the decade beginning up to this year, was the warmest ever.

“We are on the verge of the abyss,” warned the UN chief while commenting on the report and Tuesday he urged all major emitters to set targets for drastic emissions reductions this decade.

“The worst risk is that we don’t reach 1.5 degrees as a limit, that we go over it, and that we precipitate the world into a catastrophic situation,” he said.

And Mr Biden’s climate envoy Kerry said in a tweet that “to tackle the climate crisis, we need to engage with all development sectors … and strengthen resilience (to tac­kle) climate-related disasters.”

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2021

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