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PM says countries must 'get serious' about climate change this year

Countries must ‘get serious’ about climate change this year, Boris Johnson will tell virtual summit called by US President Joe Biden

  • Virtual talks have been called by President Joe Biden to happen this week  
  • PM yesterday announced a ‘world-leading’ target for UK to cut emissions by 78% 
  • Comes ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 

Boris Johnson will tell a summit of world leaders today that 2021 must be the year countries ‘get serious’ about climate change.

The virtual talks have been called by President Joe Biden, who is expected to pledge to at least halve America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The Prime Minister yesterday announced a ‘world-leading’ target for the UK to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.

It comes ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November.

Mr Johnson will urge leaders to come to Glasgow armed with ambitious targets and the plans needed to hit them.

The Prime Minister yesterday announced a ‘world-leading’ target for the UK to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035

He is expected to tell today’s meeting: ‘If we actually want to stop climate change, then this must be the year in which we get serious about doing so.

‘The 2020s will be remembered either as the decade in which world leaders united to turn the tide, or as a failure.’

The summit comes as the International Energy Agency warns global carbon emissions are set for their second biggest rise on record after a sharp fall in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Greenpeace’s Jennifer Morgan said: ‘Our survival depends on real climate action.’  

The two-day US-led summit will also hear from leaders of major economies including China, Japan, Russia, Canada, India and Australia, who will be watched closely to see what ambition they will bring to the table.

Japan and Canada are among the countries expected to unveil new climate targets at the meeting, while the European Union has agreed a new climate law which includes a goal to cut its emissions by 55% by 2030 on 1990 levels.

As part of diplomatic efforts in the lead up to the summit, the US and China issued a statement pledging to work together and with other countries on the issue.

The two-day US-led summit will also hear from leaders of major economies including China, Japan, Russia, Canada, India and Australia, who will be watched closely to see what ambition they will bring to the table

For the US, Mr Biden is expected to set out a pledge to cut emissions by at least 50% on 2005 levels by 2030, nearly double the nation’s previous commitment, as he seeks to encourage other countries to boost their efforts.

The proposal – estimated to be around a 41% cut on 1990 levels – is part of the US’s national climate plan, which it is submitting as part of its return to the Paris climate accord, the world’s first comprehensive climate treaty which Donald Trump quit when he was president.

Countries have been expected to come forward with more ambitious plans up to 2030, known as nationally determined contributions (NDC) in the Paris deal, ahead of Cop26 in November.

That is because existing plans are not enough to meet countries’ commitments under the Paris deal to curb global temperature rises to ‘well below’ 2C above pre-industrial levels – or 1.5C if possible – and avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

The summit, which will have sessions on increasing climate action, finance for developing countries, the role of natural solutions such as restoring forests and peatlands, and security impacts of climate change, will also hear from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Pope Francis.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said history had to be made at the summit.

‘True climate leadership requires laws and regulations to phase out fossil fuels, end deforestation, and restore nature. Our survival depends on real climate action.

‘To get closer to the 1.5 pathway, significant political will and action are required,’ she urged. 

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