Aday after UN Chief Antonio Guterres and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed countries for more funds to fight climate change, US President Joe Biden assured that he will work with the Congress to double funds by 2024 to $11.4 billion per year to help developing nations deal with climate change, as China announced it will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.
The two leaders were speaking at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), being held in person after a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The announcement comes in the backdrop of imminent warnings issued by several agencies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that Earth will hit the key temperature limit after which reversal will be highly unlikely.
The UN Secretary-General rang the alarm in his annual state-of-the-world speech at the opening of the UNGA’s high-level meeting saying, “We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction. I am here to sound the alarm. The world must wake up.” Guterres also warned the world could be plunged into a new and probably more dangerous Cold War unless the United States and China repair their “totally dysfunctional” relationship.
US TO DOUBLE CLIMATE AID FUND
Addressing his first UNGA as president of the United States, Biden said that he will work to increase the US’ corpus to fight climate change and the funds will help achieve a global goal set more than a decade ago of $100 billion per year to support climate action in vulnerable countries by 2020.
“The best part is, making these ambitious investments isn’t just good climate policy, it’s a chance for each of our countries to invest in ourselves and our own future,” Biden told the annual gathering of world leaders. Developing countries have been urging industrialised nations to offer financial assistance to help them both rapidly adopt clean energy technologies enabling them to avoid the use of fossil fuels and bolster their defences against the impacts of climate change from sea-level rise to extreme heat.
An Oxfam report, released days ahead of the UNGA, showed that wealthy nations are expected to fall up to $75 billion short of fulfilling their long-standing pledge to mobilise $100 billion each year. An analysis by the World Resources Institute shows that even with the U.S. increasing its climate aid commitment to $11.4 billion by 2024, it pales in comparison to the $24.5 billion that the EU spent on climate aid in 2019.
“It’s quite easy to understand why the world’s top emitters of CO2 and the biggest producers of fossil fuels want to make it seem like they’re taking sufficient climate action with fancy speeches. The fact that they still get away with it is another matter,” Climate activist Greta Thunberg wrote on Twitter.
NO MORE COAL-FIRED POWER PROJECTS FOR CHINA
Chinese President Xi Jinping addressing the gathering said that the country will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad, which could come as a setback for several developing nations that depend on Chinese financing and expertise for coal plants. While Xi gave no details of its implementation, he said that “China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.”
China has been under fire for its coal financing overseas and diplomatic pressure has been increasing to put an end to its finances, which could make it easier for the world to stay on course to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Emissions have been recognised as one of the biggest drivers of climate change and the reason behind global warming.
Xi repeated pledges from last year that China would achieve a peak in carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, is still heavily reliant on coal for its domestic energy needs.
PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT IN TURKISH PARLIAMENT
Turkey could become the last G20 country to clear the Paris Climate Agreement, which is set to be introduced in the Parliament next month. “Following the distance covered in this framework, I want to announce the decision we have taken to the world from here. We plan to present the Paris climate agreement to our parliament’s approval next month in line with constructive steps that will be taken,” President Tayyip Erdogan said at the UNGA.
The move comes amid Turkey facing one of the worst impacts of climate change in the form of uncontrolled wildfires that razed tens of thousands of hectares of forest in the southwest. The wildfires killed eight people, which were followed by devastating floods that killed at least 77 people in the north.
Turkey will hope to clear the agreement before the upcoming Conference of Parties (CoP-26) set to convene in Glasgow next month.