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The UN Climate Chief said that recent announcements from China, Japan and South Korea to slash carbon emissions to net zero are significant advances in global leadership on climate change.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), welcomed this week's announcements by Japan and South Korea, who said that their countries would target carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as China's announcement in September that it would do the same by 2060.
"These signals of very strong commitments by countries that are very important, and that have a real impact on the level of emissions globally, are extremely important,” Espinosa said.
Espinosa continued by saying, "And it’s also very important to recognise that they are coming at a time when we need this kind of leadership.”
While diplomats began 2020 with high hopes for implementing a global accord to slow climate change brokered in Paris in 2015, the COVID-19 pandemic threw those plans into disarray, forcing officials to postpone a major climate change conference in Glasgow this November.
Climate change diplomacy has been further affected by U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord, which will take affect a day after the November 3rd presidential elections.
An enormous, unprecedented shift on energy&CO2 across Asia: -Japan: net zero by 2050 -Philippines: moratorium on new coal plant permits -Korea: net zero by 2050 -Vietnam&Bangladesh: considering no new coal power projects
While Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised to return to U.S. to the accord, Espinosa said that she hopes the Asian countries' announcement will boost hopes that other countries will embark on bolder climate action.
“It’s really a significant contribution towards bringing the international community in line to achieving the goals under the Paris agreement,” she said.“And that means the future for humanity in this planet.”