The US was a key player in helping to deliver the Paris Agreement, with former State Secretary and current US climate envoy John Kerry playing an instrumental role in this successful process.
I have been extremely encouraged by the conversations I have had with Kerry and White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy — both formidable allies in the fight against climate change.
The return of the US paves the way for climate action to run like a golden thread through US domestic and international policies — mirroring our approach in the United Kingdom as we prepare to welcome world leaders to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow this November.
Why does this all matter? The UN Climate Conference in Paris, the 21st such international gathering, was a turning point. It established a global consensus on the existential threat posed to our planet by climate change, and a shared international approach to address it.
As I said at the end of that summit, we did make progress, but we have so far fallen short of what is required.
As President of COP26, I have been engaging extensively with governments around the world, at summits and in meetings with individual leaders — most recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India — on the need for ambitious policies and commitments to deliver climate action.
Encouragingly in my conversations with governments and businesses, from tech to construction, there is a realization we just cannot go on as we are. We need to enact policies that deliver green growth — protecting our environment whilst creating jobs and economic prosperity. Whether this means a transition to clean energy with a resolute focus on renewable and clean energy sources, phasing out the sale of new combustion vehicles or reforestation programs and cleaning up environmentally degraded land.
Enlightened business leaders will tell you that tackling climate change represents an unprecedented opportunity for investment and economic growth. The mantra of building back better, building back greener is very much on the money.
But what also matters are the near-term commitments countries make to reduce emissions by 2030 and demonstrate they are on the pathway to net zero. And I am very much looking forward to the US setting out its own 2030 target in the coming months.
Developing nations, particularly those most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, need financial support from developed countries to tackle its causes and effects — especially smaller island states in the Pacific
Tackling climate change is a shared endeavor. And the clock is ticking ever closer to the point of no return.
And so, I look forward to working as a matter of urgency with President Biden’s administration and governments around the world, to deliver decisive climate action on the road to and at Glasgow. We owe that to current and future generations.
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