Climate change: Biden summit to push for immediate action

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The US will attempt to re-assert its global leadership on climate change as President Joe Biden hosts 40 leaders at a virtual summit in the White House.

It’s expected that the US will unveil an updated carbon pledge that will see its emissions nearly halved by 2030.

Ahead of the meeting, officials urged greater ambition on countries perceived as laggards on climate.

Referring to Australia, an official said “there would have to be a shift” in their approach.

President Biden has made climate change a key focus in the early days of his administration.

As well as re-joining the Paris climate agreement on his first day in office, he announced early on that he would gather around 40 world leaders for a global summit on Earth Day – 22 April.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will attend the summit, and is expected to tell leaders that 2021 is the year countries need to “get serious” about tackling climate change.

The UK is hosting the crucial COP 26 summit in November this year. Held in Glasgow, it will aim to galvanise action on keeping the global temperature rise this century to less than 1.5C.

China’s President Xi Jinping will also be among those attending.

Despite serious tensions between the two countries on a host of issues, both sides seem keen to keep climate change separate from these disputes. Last weekend, the two countries issued a joint statement saying they would tackle climate “with the seriousness and urgency it demands”.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, a senior Biden administration official spoke warmly about the potential for co-operation.

“It’s quite clear that there is a distinctly shared level of ambition. Both countries see this as a crisis. Both countries see the need for action in the 2020s. Both countries see the need to work towards holding the increase in global temperatures to 1.5C,” he said.

“We certainly hope that President Xi will come to the meeting, and further elaborate on some of the additional efforts that China would choose to make. But I think we’ve got a very strong basis in the joint statement that the two countries made about the directions they seem to be moving.”


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