Leaders at the COP26 global climate conference on Tuesday pledged to halt deforestation by the end of the decade and cut greenhouse gas methane emissions to help slow climate change.
On the second day of the two-week summit in Glasgow, Scotland, rich nations took some overdue actions to deliver the financial aid promised to developing nations hardest hit by global warming.
The UN conference aims to maintain a falling target of capping temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, to avoid greater damage than was already caused by greenhouse gases.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the event attended by nearly 200 countries, said he welcomed the latest steps but urged caution.
We must be careful to beware of false hope and not to think in any way of getting the job done, because it is not. «There is still a very long way to go,» he told a news conference.
More than 100 countries have joined efforts led by the United States and the European Union to cut methane emissions by 3 percent by 2030 from 2020 levels, which could represent a step in halting global warming.
US President Joe Biden rebuked Chinese President Xi Jinping for his decision not to attend in person.
«It’s a big mistake, quite frankly, for China — in terms of not having China,» Biden said at a news conference.
“The rest of the world is going to look at China and say what added value do they bring? And they have lost the ability to influence people all over the world and all the people here at COP, in the same way I would argue with respect to Russia.”
China said Mr. Xi was not given the opportunity to give a video address, and had to send a written response instead. Mr. Shi did not make any additional pledges.
China was represented in Glasgow by chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua, who told reporters on Tuesday that «five years were lost» because Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement and it was time to «act». Harder and catch up.»
Leaders of developing countries most at risk from the effects of climate change, such as heat waves, droughts, storms and floods, told delegates that the risks could not be greater.
«Let’s work for the survival of our lives and all species. Let’s not choose extinction,» said the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Rowley.
Biden said the global pledge on methane, launched Tuesday after it was announced in September with just a handful of signatories, now covers countries that account for nearly half of global methane emissions and 70 percent of global GDP.
Methane is shorter-lived in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide but 80 times more effective in warming the planet. Reducing gas emissions, which is estimated to account for 30 percent of global warming since pre-industrial times, is one of the most effective ways to slow climate change.
Among the two sites is Brazil – one of the top five sources of methane emissions, generated in the digestive system of cows, in landfill waste and in oil and gas production. Three other countries – China, Russia and India – did not sign, while Australia said it would not support the pledge.
The US also revealed its domestic proposal for tough action with a focus on the oil and gas sector, where leaky infrastructure allows methane into the atmosphere.
More than 100 national leaders also signed a pledge to stop the destruction of the world’s forests, which absorb nearly 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the nonprofit World Resources Institute.
In 2020, the world lost 258,000 square kilometers (100,000 square miles) of forest – an area larger than the United Kingdom, according to WRI’s Global Forest Watch. The conservation charity WWF estimates that 27 football fields of forest are lost every minute.
The pledge to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade is backed by $19 billion in public and private funds to be invested in forest protection and restoration.
Other signatories again include Brazil, which has carried out spiraling deforestation under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, and Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Together, they make up 85 percent of the world’s forests.
Under the agreement, 12 countries pledged $12 billion in public funding between 2021 and 2025 for developing countries to restore degraded lands and tackle wildfires.
At least $7.2 billion will come from private investors representing $8.7 trillion in assets under management, who have also pledged to stop investing in deforestation-related activities such as livestock, palm oil, soybean and pulp production.
The funding could help reduce distrust among developing countries caused by the failure of rich nations to deliver on their 2009 promise to raise $100 billion annually by 2020 to help them tackle climate change.
This mistrust is one of the main obstacles to climate progress, which makes some developing countries reluctant to embrace sharp cuts in emissions.
“We see double standards creeping into our thinking, as those who have already benefited from carbon-driven economies wish to prevent emerging economies from laying similar foundations for their political stability, social development and economic prosperity,” said Chan Santokhi, President of Suriname.
Japan said on Tuesday it would provide up to $10 billion over five years in additional aid to support decarbonization in Asia.
US climate envoy John Kerry said this could raise another $8 billion from the World Bank and other sources, potentially allowing the $100 billion threshold for climate finance to be reached by 2022, instead of 2023 as previously expected.
In another deal signed on Tuesday, Britain and India launched a plan to improve connections between the world’s electric power grids to help speed up the transition to greener energy.
But there was little indication of joint design by the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, China and the United States, which together account for more than 40 percent of global emissions, but are at odds on many issues.
Biden singled out China and major oil producers Russia for failing to step up their climate goals in Glasgow, while Beijing rejected Washington’s efforts to separate climate issues from their broader differences.
In an editorial on Monday, the Communist Party-run Global Times said Washington’s stance had made it «impossible for China to see any possibility of fair negotiations amid the tensions». – Reuters
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