US-led Summit gives world a fighting chance to meet climate goals

Posted on 23 April 2021

(23 April 2021) A small but important group of world leaders have shown that they grasp the scale of the climate crisis facing us, bringing their A-game to the Leaders Summit on Climate this week.


Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF’s Global Lead Climate & Energy said: “Bold action by a coalition of a few high-ambition countries has given us a fighting chance of keeping global climate goals within reach during this critical decade.”


“The US set the pace with a game-changing target of 50-52% emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, as did the United Kingdom with its target of 78% by 2035. Japan and Canada also presented improved targets. Now, other big emitters such as Australia, and the Russian Federation, and forested countries such as Mexico and Brazil, must step up with equally strong targets. Enhanced 2030 targets by China and India would also be game-changers, he said.  


“What is clear is that the end of the fossil fuel era is very much in sight, with enhanced commitments to end international public funding for coal by South Korea, for example and a definite end to fossil fuel subsidies as called for by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the US. We urge the G7 and G20 countries to address this issue meaningfully when they meet later this year.” 


Many new coalitions were announced or mentioned which have the potential to push sectoral transformation at a speed and scale not yet realized. Key among these are the new LEAF CoalitionLowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance—and the GFANZ CoalitionGlasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zeroshowing a clear trend in the private finance and corporate sectors. They highlight how truly committed companies can go above and beyond their Science Based Targets initiative-validated decarbonization targets to contribute to meaningfully address the intertwined biodiversity and climate crises

“The ultimate demonstration of the political will of leaders will become more evident in the year ahead, especially around the issue of climate finance. We cannot ignore the urgency to fund adaptation, loss and damage and nature-based solutions. Leaders must ensure their recovery packages and spending are both nature- and climate positive,” said Pulgar-Vidal. 


“Overall, I consider this summit’s outcomes to be a hugely important contribution to the global response to the climate crisis, said Pulgar-Vidal. 


“It is imperative for the momentum initiated through the Summit to pulse all the way to COP26, so that the outcome there lay a strong foundation for implementation in the years ahead,” he concluded.

Statements by WWF Country Offices

WWF-US Senior Vice President for Climate Change Marcene Mitchell: “During the Leaders' Climate Summit, we heard of innovations in technology, nature-based solutions, and the potential of a clean and equitable energy transition that will spark new life into the economy. But this moment represents just the beginning of a critical year in global climate policy and we have a lot of work ahead of us. We are ready to stand alongside the federal government to tackle the monumental challenge of climate change."

WWF-China CEO Lu Lunyan: President Xi has mandated new requirements to intensify coal control and phase down in China, a positive and crucial step to achieve China’s pledges of emission peaking before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. We encourage relevant Chinese authorities to faithfully deliver the new mandate on energy transition, while joining forces with the global community in a robust approach. We also welcome the green initiatives in collaboration with countries along the “Belt & Road.” We encourage China to strengthen cooperation on green, low carbon and renewable energy development.”

WWF European Policy Office Director Ester Asin: "We know that citizens everywhere want climate action, and this summit showed there is government momentum too. However, there is still a huge gap between the emissions reductions needed and what many countries are doing. The EU agreed a climate law committing to climate neutrality by 2050, a 2030 reduction target of -55% net emissions and consistency of its future policies towards those targets. It is an important step, but far from what we need to be in line with science. The EU needs to step up and make sure its upcoming legislation is fit to fight the climate emergency."


WWF-Latin America Regional Director Roberto Troya: “Addressing the main causes of climate change must be a priority for vulnerable regions like Latin America and the Caribbean. We still have a long way to go to get on the 1.5ºC path. But Colombia and Chile's announcements during the Leaders Summit on Climate to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030, and to decarbonize energy by 2040, added to the announcement of massive carbon neutrality commitments from the mayors of the Capital Cities of the Americas in the Secretariat of Climate Change (CC35). These are key steps for the region to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. We reinforce the call to Latin America and the Caribbean countries to commit to a just and green transition that leads to environmentally and socially sustainable low-carbon economies."


For more information, contact Mandy Jean Woods 
US President Joe Biden hosts world leaders virtually at his Leaders Climate Summit, held 22 -23 April 2021.
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