US President Joe Biden on Friday called on six heads of state and three leaders of multilateral organizations to make their argument: that strong climate action is not just necessary – it is good for the global economy.
The leaders met six weeks ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, an event that aims to chart future global climate efforts.
Biden told the leaders of Argentina, Bangladesh, “I wanted to show that we are at a turning point and there is a real consensus, a real consensus, while the climate crisis is an existential threat, a silver lining.” layer.” Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico and the United Kingdom, all of which virtually joined.
“The climate crisis also presents real and incredible economic opportunities for job creation and raising the living standards of people around the world.”
One of Biden’s first acts in office was to back the United States into the Paris Agreement on climate change, after his predecessor withdrew saying it was a “bad deal” for the country.
The legally binding international treaty aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. For developed countries such as the US and China – the two biggest emitters – that would require substantial reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.
For the US, that would require emissions 50–52% below 2005 levels by 2030, a move that may require a marked shift from conventional energy sources such as coal to green sources such as solar and wind power .
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed Biden’s sense of urgency on Friday.
“The world is on a catastrophic path of 2.7 degree warming,” he said in a statement, citing a report released Friday by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “This is breaking a promise made six years ago to advance the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement. Failure to meet this target will be measured in massive loss of lives and livelihoods.”
The UN chief put the onus directly on the developed world, noting that 80% of global emissions are caused by the world’s 20 wealthiest countries. He called on all countries to set more ambitious emissions targets and for developed countries to meet their $100 billion commitment to help developing countries combat climate change.
But notable by his absence at Friday’s meeting was someone from the world’s biggest emitter: China.
Nikos Tsafos, an analyst working on energy and geopolitics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says US-China relations have a lot to offer when it comes to the discussion of climate change.
“Bilateral relations are more complex and hostile than during the negotiations of the Paris Agreement in 2015, making it difficult to separate the climate from the many disputes between the two countries,” he wrote in an opinion piece. “China has also tried to brand itself as a leader on climate and is unwilling to do anything that could be seen as succumbing to US pressure.”
But, he said, China’s approach has also changed. They still see an opportunity to capitalize on it. That said, over the years, Chinese companies have been major players in the wind and solar power industries, and the nation is a larger market for electric vehicles than the US.
“There is no longer a need to persuade China to lean into the energy transition,” he said.
The 197 parties to the Paris Agreement – including individual countries and supranational groupings – will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.