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There is widespread international media coverage of the UN’s “Climate Ambition Summit” held online on Saturday and co-hosted by the UK, France and UN. “The world is still not on track to fulfil the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the UK’s business secretary Alok Sharma warned, after a summit of more than 70 world leaders on the climate crisis ended with few new commitments on greenhouse gas emissions”, reports the Guardian. The newspaper quotes Sharma, the COP26 president, saying: ““[People] will ask ‘Have we done enough to put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5C and protect people and nature from the effects of climate change?’ We must be honest with ourselves – the answer to that is currently no.” It adds: “He said progress had been made at the [summit] marking five years since the Paris accord was adopted. More than 80 world leaders including China’s Xi Jinping, the European commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and Pope Francis urged swifter action on the climate crisis.” BBC News says the heads of state “outlined new pledges and commitments to curb carbon”, adding: “China’s contribution was eagerly awaited, not just because it is the world’s biggest emitter, but because it has recently promised to reach net-zero emissions by 2060…But while President Xi Jinping outlined a range of new targets for 2030, many analysts felt these did not go far enough. India brought little in the way of new commitments, but prime minister Narendra Modi said his country was on track to achieve its goals under the Paris agreement and promised a major uptick in wind and solar energy.” The Guardian has a video of Boris Johnson’s speech in which he said his motivation was to save the environment and create new jobs. The Press Association says “as the summit kicked off, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres urged leaders to declare climate emergencies in all countries until emissions were reduced to zero overall, starting with meaningful cuts now”. Reuters notes how Guterres said that “rich nations are ‘lagging badly’ on a longstanding pledge to channel $100bn a year in funding, from 2020 onwards, to help poorer countries develop cleanly and adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change”. Climate Home News says that Australia, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Brazil were among big emitters absent from the summit because they failed to meet the ambition benchmark to participate. Climate Home News also ran a live-blog throughout the summit tracking all the key speeches and announcements.
In terms of commitments by individual countries, the UK’s pledge to end its financing for oil and gas projects overseas attracts coverage. The Financial Times says the move “will strip out billions in underwriting loans to energy projects”. It adds: “Support for overseas fossil-fuel energy projects has totalled more than £3.5bn over the past five years but will be halted sometime next year, though no date was set for when the new policy will take effect and the government said there would be ‘limited exceptions’.” The Guardian says: “The halt to funding for fossil fuels has been mooted since early this year, when the prime minister was stung by accusations of hypocrisy because the UK continued to fund such developments despite preparing to host the next round of vital UN climate talks, COP26, in Glasgow.” The Press Association notes that “under the plans, the government will end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas or coal energy projects, with ‘very limited exceptions’ for some gas-fired power plants and other schemes”. The New York Times says that Johnson’s move will help him “find common cause” with Joe Biden.
China’s new pledge gets a lot of media focus, too. The Financial Times says “China [has] vowed to nearly triple its wind and solar capacity during the next decade”. It adds: “President Xi’s appearance was the most anticipated, as he pledged China would cut its carbon intensity, which measures emissions relative to gross domestic product, by more than 65% by 2030. This was an increase from its previous goal of 60-65%. It would also increase wind and solar installed capacity to 1200GW by 2030, Mr Xi said, up from 415GW at the end of 2019.” Reuters says China “looks to reach the peak of its emissions before the end of the decade”. The Independent says that “the leaders of China and India failed to set ambitious new climate targets”, adding that “India’s prime minister Narendra Modi did not announce any new plans for tackling its emissions at the climate action summit”. Reuters notes that Modi said India’s renewable energy capacity would reach 175GW before 2022. Press Association picks up that Pakistan says it will focuse on “nature-based solutions” including mass tree planting, as well as a ban on new coal power stations: “Prime minister Imran Khan said that by 2030, 60% of Pakistan’s energy would be renewable, and 30% of its vehicles would be electric.” Bloomberg reports that Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has “pledg[ed] billions in new money to combat climate change and increasing his government’s carbon tax”.
Reuters says that Greta Thunberg has reacted to the summit by saying that the “world remains in denial over the actions needed to prevent catastrophic warming”. The teenage campaigner is quoted as saying: “Hypothetical targets are being set and big speeches are being given, yet when it comes to the immediate action we need, we are still in state of complete denial.” The New Zealand Herald covers Jacinda Ardern’s response to Greta Thunberg’s criticism of the New Zealand’s government by pointing out “there has been more done in New Zealand’s climate change space than the teen activist might realise”. The Guardian also reports Ardern’s response to Thunberg. Japan’s Mainichi reports that Japan will “help firms develop green technologies such as carbon capture and recycling, hydrogen fuel and next-generation batteries through a new 2tn yen ($19bn) fund”, according to prime minister Yoshihide Suga.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg says the “underwhelming summit puts more pressure on president-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to assert US leadership on climate change when he takes office”. The Guardian picks up of Joe Biden’s statement over the weekend, saying: “The US will hold a climate summit of the world’s major economies early next year, within 100 days of Joe Biden taking office, and seek to rejoin the Paris agreement on the first day of his presidency, in a boost to international climate action.”