The pledges from China, Japan and South Korea to reduce carbon emissions to net zero are important signs of leadership in the fight against climate change, the climate chief said.
“These signals of very strong commitments from countries which are very important and which have a real impact on the level of emissions in the world are extremely important,” said Espinosa.
“And it’s also very important to recognize that they’re coming at a time when we need that kind of leadership.”
Diplomats started 2020 hoping it would prove to be a pivotal year in implementing a global deal to slow climate change negotiated in Paris in 2015.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown those plans into disarray, forcing officials to postpone a major climate conference scheduled for Glasgow in November for a year.
‘Future for humanity’
Climate diplomacy was further overshadowed by US President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement.
The move takes effect the day after the US presidential elections on November 3 – the earliest date the country could leave due to the way the pact was designed.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has pledged to bring the United States back to the Paris Agreement if he wins.
Espinosa said Asia’s net-zero commitments had boosted hope that more countries would take bolder climate action.
“It is really a significant contribution to bring the international community to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” she said.
“And that means the future of humanity on this planet.”