Brussels (Brussels Morning) Some 40 world leaders gathered on Thursday in a virtual climate conference organised by US President Joe Biden, with Russia’s and China’s Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping pledging to cooperate on cutting greenhouse emissions despite their rivalries with the US, AP reported.
Coinciding with the summit, Biden announced Washington’s new commitment to cut US fossil fuel emission up to 52% by 2030, thus marking its return to global climate efforts after the previous administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.
“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet”, Biden declared. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us”. The US president noted it was “a moment of peril, but a moment of opportunity”. He noted that “the signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, the cost of inaction keeps mounting”.
Chinese President Xi was the first to speak among the global leaders. Without referring to the ongoing tensions with Washington, Xi said China would work with the US in cutting emissions. “To protect the environment is to protect productivity”, he said. “And to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that”.
During a series of live-streamed speeches, the Russia’s President Putin also committed to fighting the climate crisis. “Russia is genuinely interested in galvanizing international cooperation so as to look further for effective solutions to climate change as well as to all other vital challenges”, he stated.
Among the many US allies welcoming the country back into the fold was Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I’m delighted to see that the US is back to work together with us in climate politics”, she said, because “there can be no doubt about the world needing your contribution if we really want to fulfill our ambitious goals”
Joining the climate pledges, Japan committed to cutting its own emissions to 46%, while South Korea pledged to stop all public financing of new coal-fueled power plants. More pledges were forthcoming from the EU, the UK and other countries, accounting for more than half the global economy. In all, according to the US administration, the pledges made should be enough to prevent the Earth’s climate from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.