The UN secretary general has urged the US to set the bar high when Washington decides on its emissions reduction targets, claiming that the US’ move could trigger other heavily polluting countries to do the same.
Speaking on Monday, Antonio Guterres told Reuters that he wants the US and other nations to make big commitments on climate change. The world needs to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2050, he said, adding that going over this figure could “precipitate the world into a catastrophic situation.”
The UN chief said the US needs to lead the fight by setting its own targets high and halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. “My expectation is that the United States will be able to present a reduction of emissions for 2030, in relation to 2010 levels, above 50%,” Guterres noted.
“If it happens, I have no doubt that it will have very important consequences in relation to Japan, in relation to China, in relation to Russia – in relation to other areas of the world that have not yet entirely defined these levels,” he said.
Guterres’ comments came ahead of a virtual climate conference which will be hosted by the US on April 22-23.
Last week, China and the US – the world’s worst and second-worst greenhouse gas emitters respectively – traded blows over their commitments to climate change.
The US called on Beijing to “assume responsibility” for its part in global warming and demanded it stop building coal-fired power stations, while Beijing labeled Washington hypocritical on the issue, citing their four-year gap as a signatory of the Paris climate agreement. “The return of the US is not the return of the king at all, but the return of the student who skipped school,” a Chinese government spokesman told reporters.
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