December 1, 2023

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UN Secretary-General highlights the “drivers” and excludes the United States and China at the climate summit

UN Secretary-General highlights the “drivers” and excludes the United States and China at the climate summit

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will on Wednesday bring together heads of state and business leaders whom he described as taking stronger action on climate change in a meeting aimed at building momentum ahead of the COP28 climate summit.

Missing from the list of 34 speakers representing countries at Guterres’ Climate Ambition Summit were China and the United States, the world’s largest emitters, as well as the United Arab Emirates, which is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December.

The summit will include speeches from leaders heeding his call to “accelerate” global climate action, including Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Pakistan, South Africa and Tuvalu.

Guterres said one goal was to motivate countries and companies whose climate plans do not align with the global climate goal to act.

Non-member countries and international financial institutions that will have speaking opportunities include Allianz (ALVG.DE), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the City of London and the State of California.

A spokesman said that US special climate change envoy John Kerry would attend the summit but would not deliver a speech.

The Office of the Secretary-General maintained control over the list of invited speakers. Guterres’ climate adviser Selwyn Hart said in an interview with Reuters this week that the purpose of the summit was not to “embarrass” countries or companies that did not participate in the cuts but to motivate others to take further action.

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Criteria for selecting a leader to speak include proposals to update his country’s climate plan before 2030; Updated targets for achieving zero-emission energy transition plans that commit to no new oil, gas or coal; And plans to phase out fossil fuels.

New climate finance pledges or adaptation plans are also among the criteria to which countries must participate.

For companies, cities and financial institutions, the UN is asking them to represent transition plans in line with the UN Integrity Recommendations, 2025 emissions reduction targets that include indirect emissions, as well as plans to phase out fossil fuels that do not rely on carbon offsetting.

Guterres has been frank in his public assessment of climate actions taken by countries and whether they will achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“I am not sure that all leaders feel the pressure,” he said in his opening speech to the UN General Assembly. “The measures are largely insufficient.”

A UN report released earlier this month said current national pledges to cut emissions were not enough to keep temperatures within the 1.5°C threshold. More than 20 gigatonnes of additional carbon dioxide reductions are needed this decade – and reaching global net zero by 2050 – to meet the targets.

China’s mission to the United Nations and the United Arab Emirates did not immediately respond for comment.

Valerie Volcovici reports. Edited by Stephen Coates

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Valerie Volcovici covers US environmental and energy policy from Washington, D.C. She focuses on climate and environmental regulations in federal agencies and in Congress. They also cover the impact of these regulatory changes across the United States. Other areas of coverage include plastic pollution and international climate negotiations.

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