UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a climate summit on Wednesday in which representatives from the two main emitters, China and the United States, will not participate.
Despite the increasing prevalence of extreme weather events and record temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and responsible companies continue to make profits.
Guterres then presented the “Climate Ambition Summit” as a “concrete” event, without empty chatter, where leaders or government representatives would announce specific actions to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Guterres explained that only those who present concrete plans to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality will be able to speak.
After receiving more than a hundred requests to participate, the United Nations issued on Tuesday evening a list of forty-one participants, which does not include China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, or India.
Some major world leaders will not be heading to New York this year to attend the UN General Assembly meetings. Among them are Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
As for the United States, climate envoy John Kerry will be present at the summit called for by Guterres, but he will not be able to speak.
“The absence of representatives of major emitting countries will certainly have negative consequences for the summit,” said Alden Meyer of the climate expert group E3g.
According to Mayer, their absence is due in part to factors such as the conflict in Ukraine, tensions between the United States and China, and economic uncertainties.
“But I think it also depends on the resistance of the fossil fuel industry to making the necessary changes in these countries,” Mayer said.
“The absence of the United States from the summit could be good news, because the Biden administration continues to expand fossil fuel projects, while encouraging renewable energy,” said Catherine Abreu, director of the non-profit organization Destination Zero.
“At previous summits, many leaders presented themselves as champions of the green transition while in reality they continued to support fossil fuels at home,” he added.
Although the United States will not be allowed to speak, the state of California will be represented by Governor Gavin Newsom. For the United Kingdom, there will be London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The summit is the largest climate event in New York since 2019, when Greta Thunberg stunned the world with her “How dare you?” speech. At the United Nations.
Anger is mounting among climate activists, especially young people, who participated in the “March to End Fossil Fuels” in New York last weekend.
Observers are curious to understand what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have to say, both regarding domestic targets and financing for developing countries.
The inability of rich countries, responsible for the majority of emissions, to deliver on promises they made to low-income countries, especially those affected by extreme weather events, has long been a sticking point in climate talks.
Returning to the positive aspects of the summit, Colombia and Panama will announce their membership in a group called the “Coal Past Alliance,” which should encourage a gradual exit from coal. This announcement is important because Colombia is currently the sixth largest coal exporter in the world.
Wednesday’s summit precedes the Cop28 climate conference in the UAE by a few weeks. Among the conference’s goals are to triple renewable energy by 2030 and end by 2050 energy production from fossil fuels that is not offset by carbon capture.
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