Biden invites 40 world leaders to climate summit

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The climate summit will be a key milestone on the road to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow, reports Arul Louis

US President Joe Biden has invited 40 heads of state, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to join him for the World Leaders Summit on Climate to be hosted by his administration on April 22-23.

The other leaders including Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and Lotay Tshering of Bhutan have also been invited to the virtual meeting to highlight the urgency of action to combat climate change, the White House said on Friday.

European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson were invited.

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So were Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The Leaders Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency, and the economic benefits, of stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow,” the White House said.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris

The virtual summit will be live-streamed for people everywhere to watch the proceedings.

Biden has made fighting climate change a pillar of both his foreign and domestic policies and one of his first actions on taking office in January was to have the US rejoin the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The summit is meant to position Biden, and the US, as the global leader in meeting the climate change challenge and boost his stature.

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“By the time of the summit, the US will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement for limiting the damage from climate change, the White House said.

Biden has asked all US government agencies to come up with ways to cut greenhouse emissions and harness green energy.

He appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry to be his international emissary for climate change reflecting the high priority it has on his agenda.

John Kerry in Brussels to renew climate cooperation

He is reaching out to the leaders of China and Russia, who he has harshly criticised over their human rights record and their international rivalry with the US to work together on the climate agenda despite their differences.

Biden wants countries around the world to take steps to limit emissions to a level that would limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius “in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change”, the White House said.

“The President urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.”

India will be under US pressure to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by being shown as the world’s third-highest emitter of greenhouse gases after Beijing and Washington.

However, that picture is misleading as on a per capita basis the US emissions were nearly nine times that of India.

John Kerry in Brussels to renew climate cooperation

An Indian emitted only 1.96 tonnes of greenhouse gases in a year, while an American was responsible for 16.56 tonnes.

For all the posturing and preaching, Biden or the climate change activists in the US are not going to bring down the US per capita emissions anywhere near the Indian level while demanding that India cut down its emissions overall.

India is already promoting green energy to eventually eliminate fossil fuel-generated electricity.

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It is reportedly working on a goal of achieving a net-zero emissions by 2050. Net-zero emission is achieved by removing all greenhouse gases that are put out by various means ranging from aforestation to technologies to capture the emissions.

The Climate Summit will be Modi’s second multilateral virtual meeting with Biden.

Earlier this month, Biden and Modi were joined by Prime Minister Yoshihide Sugo of Japan and Scott Morrison of Australia at a summit of the Quad.