US President Joe Biden will host a Leaders Summit on Climate on 22 and 23 April, and has invited 40 leaders to take part in the virtual event, from the world’s biggest emitters to those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
A statement issued by the White House also heralded forthcoming new US climate targets, saying: “By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement".
The White House is framing the summit as a key milestone on the road to COP26 this November in Glasgow, Scotland and is urging participants to use it as an opportunity to make more ambitious climate commitments.
It outlines six key themes it wishes to cover, among them the economic benefits of climate action, with an emphasis on job creation and the transition to a clean-energy economy. It also wants to “showcase subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery” and “mobilise public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition".
Water is likely to feature in several of the themes, in particular those addressing infrastructure, preparedness, nature-based solutions, resilience and global security.
The move follows the clear recommitment to the climate emergency made by US climate envoy John Kerry at the Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Netherlands in January shortly after Biden’s inauguration, where Kerry announced: “We’re proud to be back,” adding: “We come back with humility for the absence of the last four years and we’ll do everything we can to make up for it".
In addition to the 17 countries that account for around 80 percent of global emissions such as China, Russia and India, the Leaders Summit hopes to include voices from “countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy”, according to a White House statement.
The invitation list includes several small island nations such as Antigua and Barbuda, the Marshall Islands and Jamaica. The leaders of Gabon, DRC, Vietnam and Indonesia are also among those invited, alongside a number from South America, including Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.