President Uhuru Kenyatta is among 40 participants in an ongoing Leaders Summit on Climate convened by United States President Joe Biden.
From Africa, Mr Kenyatta was invited alongside President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Ali Bongo of Gabon and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari.
The summit, a two-day virtual event that began Thursday, is aimed at underscoring the urgency of stronger climate action.
It also aims to galvanise action by leading economies to tackle the global climate crisis ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled for November this year in Glasgow.
At the opening of the summit, President Biden said the science and cost of climate change are undeniable facts.
He called on all players, especially the leading global economies, to set higher climate ambitions and act urgently to forestall global warming, which now exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.
The US announced its ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.
“The United States sets out on a path to cut greenhouse gases in half by the end of this decade. That’s where we’re headed as an economy and that is what we can do if we take action to build an economy that’s not only more prosperous but healthier, fairer and cleaner for the entire planet. This path will set America on a mission towards a net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050,” said Mr Biden.
He added: “But the truth is America represents less than 50 percent of the world’s emissions and no nation can solve this crisis on its own as all fully understand. All—and particularly those who represent the world’s largest economies—have to step up and those that do take bold actions in clean energy future will win the good jobs of tomorrow while making their economies more resilient and more competitive.”
He highlighted examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create better paying jobs, advance ground-breaking technologies and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.
In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A key goal of both the Leaders Summit and COP26 will be to catalyse efforts to keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach.
President Biden took action on his first day in office to return the US to the Paris Agreement. Days later, on January 27, he announced plans to convene a leaders’ summit on climate change. It is hoped the summit, which reconvenes the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, will explain how climate action can have global economic and social benefits.
The forum, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP, is also expected to nudge the world’s major economies and private sector to build new nature-based solutions, businesses and industries that will help reduce emissions in this decade.
Mr Biden urged world leaders to use the summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.