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Concerted efforts needed to aid global fight against climate change

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Greenpeace activists carry a giant balloon representing planet Earth which is connected to an infusion in Zagreb, Croatia, last year. AFP

Concerted efforts needed to aid global fight against climate change

US President Joe Biden certainly deserves praise for rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change – which his predecessor withdrew from – immediately after being inaugurated as the leader of the US.

Now he is reportedly going to unveil executive orders on January 27 to combat climate change at home and elevate the issue as a national security priority in moves described as “the vision of the future” by Gina McCarthy, the White House’s national climate adviser.

Although the details have not been released, the executive orders are expected to roll back the previous administration’s policies that aimed to maximise the US output and exports of oil, gas and coal. Given that the US is the largest producer of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis, and that the former US administration under Donald Trump rolled back more than 100 regulations on climate and the environment, which greatly worsened carbon pollution, Biden’s move will significantly benefit the global fight against climate change.

It is one of the hardest tasks that Biden faces to right all the climate wrongs, and he will need to put in place the necessary personnel, budgets and policies as quickly as possible.

Thus it is a little perplexing that John Kerry, Biden’s special climate envoy, while claiming that the US had returned to the Paris Agreement with humility, told foreign ministers in Europe on January 22 that the US administration has begun to “apply diplomatic pressure” on countries to work harder to curb emissions, especially China, whose ambitious plan to become “carbon neutral” before 2060, he called “not good enough”.

Fortunately, China does not need to rely on the US to approve its green credentials. The progress it is making to help keep the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels has been acknowledged around the world. Inger Anderson, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, called the pledge “a big step forward for China and for the world”.

Climate change poses a huge challenge to all. China, as the world’s largest investor, producer and consumer of renewable energy, has already set a good example by delivering on its previous climate pledges.

World leaders, who met at the two-day virtual Climate Adaptation Summit on January 25 to find ways to address climate challenge, need to put aside their differences so they can agree on an action agenda and concrete proposals to build a climate-resilient planet.



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