Le Figaro: UN Climate Summit, world leaders under pressure from world’s youths
Close to sixty world leaders convened Monday for a UN Summit on “climate emergency” aimed at reinvigorating the Paris Agreement.
Three days after millions of youths on five continents staged climate demonstrations, and four days after a new global school strike, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, hopes dozens of leaders will announce measures to ramp up their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at this summit on “climate emergency”. Less than half of 136 Heads of State or Government who will attend the UN General Assembly in New York this week have asked to attend.
A controversial symbol of revolted youth, Swedish-born Greta Thunberg, 16, has been invited to speak to the leaders. The United States is one of those who will be conspicuously absent from the podium; Donald Trump will be in the room but will only speak at an event on freedom of religion. Likewise, Brazil and Australia whose conservative Prime Minister visited the White House last week, for lack of anything better to announce. However, two big consumers of coal, China and India, will be present. Each representative will be allowed three minutes to speak.
Many States are expected to announce plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050, according to Antonio Gutteres, which means they will slash most of their emissions and offset the remainder by planting trees which absorb carbon from the air.
A “springboard” to COP26 in 2020
The goal of «carbon neutrality», which was deemed so radical in 2015 that it was left out of the Paris Agreement has now become a rallying cry for a growing number of States (United Kingdom, France... European Union...) and multi-national corporations, as concern grows over the last summer’s heat waves, hurricanes and pictures of almost visibly melting glaciers. The last five years are set to be the hottest on record, says a report released by the UN on Sunday. The Earth is on average 1°C hotter than in the 20th century and the temperature just keeps rising.
As the first meeting of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, the summit on the “climate emergency” begins Monday in New York, three days after millions of youths staged demonstrations around the globe.
Enough with the speeches, Antonio Guterres expects “concrete and realistic plans”. The United Nations Secretary General had already distributed copies of the agenda months earlier, hence the political leaders will spend the entire day proposing ideas on how to tackle the different issues at hand - the energy transition, climate finance and coal prices, natural solutions, etc. All with one common goal- to help fight climate change more efficiently and get their countries aligned with the Paris Accord.