Tue, 03 Aug 2021

World Leaders Set to Speak at US-Led Virtual Climate Summit

Voice of America
22 Apr 2021, 06:05 GMT+10

More than two dozen world leaders are set to speak Thursday, on Earth Day, at the virtual global summit on climate change organized by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Among those planning to give their views are United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Xi will deliver an "important speech" at the conference, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

Xi's views could weigh heavily on future global efforts to control climate change since China remains the world's largest greenhouse polluter, with 28% of the world's emissions, more than twice the second-worst polluter, the United States.

Xi is among 40 world leaders invited by Biden to attend the two-day summit. Xi's acceptance to speak at the summit comes days after John Kerry, Biden's special envoy on climate change, held talks last week with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, in Shanghai.

The White House said Wednesday it does not expect Biden to hold bilateral meetings with any of the other world leaders,

Xi's appearance is his first with Biden since the latter took office in January, and it comes amid increasing tensions between the two economic superpowers over a host of issues, including Beijing's tightening control on semiautonomous Hong Kong and its brutal treatment of ethnic Uyghur Muslims in northwestern Xinjiang province.

But the two countries have apparently found common ground on reducing climate change, with greenhouse gases directly linked to climate change.

The global climate summit is part of Biden's efforts to restore U.S. leadership after the dismissive attitude toward the issue of his predecessor, Donald Trump. In 2015, the former president withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Agreement, which set a cap on global carbon emissions. Biden rejoined the agreement immediately after taking office.

Biden administration officials say the president could announce steps at the summit to end a legal battle with the country's most populous state, California, over its regulation of motor vehicle emissions, which could lead to stricter national standards for auto emissions that Trump sought to weaken.

Brazil's Bolsonaro is asking the U.S. for $1 billion in economic assistance in exchange for cutting deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by 40%.

Putin, in his annual address to the Russian government on Wednesday, said he is setting a goal of reducing Russia's greenhouse emissions below European Union levels in the next 30 years and plans to increase fines for industrial polluters.

"If you profited from the nature, clean up after yourself," Putin said as he referenced massive toxic spills in the Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk regions of Siberia last year.

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