World leaders were due to announce more ambitious plans to tackle global warming on Saturday, on the fifth anniversary of the signing of the historic Paris agreement.
The Climate Ambition Summit, which is being held online, comes as the United Nations warns that current commitments to tackle rising global temperatures are insufficient.
Britain, the UN and France are co-hosting the summit, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson will open at 2:00 p.m. GMT and which will be broadcast live on climateambitionsummit2020.org.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron are among the participating heads of state, with speaking slots given to the leaders of the countries that have submitted the most ambitious plans.
These include Honduras and Guatemala, both of which were recently hit by hurricanes, as well as India, which is grappling with increasingly erratic weather and air pollution.
The figures expected to speak include Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, who has pledged to make its entire supply chain carbon neutral by 2030.
But big economies like Australia, Brazil and South Africa are missing. Australia has not committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and has been accused of setting targets that are too low.
Speakers will deliver short video messages, with organizers saying they will announce “new and ambitious commitments on climate change” and that there will be “no room for general statements”.
The 2015 Paris climate agreement saw signatories pledge to take action to limit temperature rises “well below” 2.0 Celsius above pre-industrial levels and try to limit them to 1 , 5 ° C.
But the UN warned this week that under current commitments, Earth is still on track for a “catastrophic temperature rise” of more than 3.0 ° C this century.
He warned that this will create a crisis that “will eclipse the impacts of Covid-19” and said current promises to cut emissions to meet the Paris agreement were “woefully insufficient”.
– ‘Moment of responsibility’ –
Greenpeace called the summit – seen as a warm-up for the UN’s COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, next November – a “moment of responsibility for leaders.”
Under the Paris Agreement’s “ratchet” mechanism, countries are required to submit renewed emission reduction plans – called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs – every five years.
The deadline for this is December 31st.
Countries are ready to announce efforts to reduce national emissions, long-term strategies and financial commitments to support the most vulnerable.
More than 110 countries have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. China, the world’s largest polluter, announced in September that it plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
The summit comes as EU leaders pledged on Friday to meet the target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels.
Britain – out of the EU since January – announced this month it would seek to cut emissions by 68% over the same period.
Johnson laid out plans for a “green industrial revolution” creating up to 250,000 jobs.
And before the summit opens, he pledged to end all direct government support to the fossil fuel sector abroad.
The past five years have been the hottest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, concerned about the increasing number of forest fires, storms and flooding.
The UN has said the drop in emissions from the global coronavirus pandemic is too small to stop rising temperatures.
The United States, the world’s second-largest polluter after China, left the Paris Agreement under the leadership of President Donald Trump who questioned the accepted science behind climate change.
The next US climate envoy, John Kerry, plans to reinstate the deal immediately, and President-elect Joe Biden has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
© 2020 AFP