Nordic and Asian countries for virtual climate summit, but what is it all about?

Photo: Kacper Pempel / Ritzau Scanpix)

The President of the United States, Joe Biden is these days hosting a climate summit with the participation of 40 different leaders – including leaders of Denmark, Norway, Indonesia, Singapore, China, and Vietnam. Expectations are words and promises, rather than agreements and commitments. So what’s the point?

The newspaper JydskeVestkysten answers some of the questions about the meeting with the help of the Danish government’s climate ambassador, Thomas Anker Christensen, as well as climate advisers from Greenpeace and Care Denmark.

1 What are the expectations for the meeting?
“The expectation is that it will mark a very significant shift in gear for the entire global conversation about climate,” says Thomas Anker Christensen. Climate advisor in Care Denmark, John Nordbo says he has a hope that this will be the starting point for the climate to once again become a central theme on the international stage.

Among other things, the 40 world leaders are discussing the goals of the Paris Agreement – a major climate agreement reached in 2015. To standing ovations, countries around the world agreed at the time that global warming should be slowed down before the average temperature rose 2 degrees – in fact preferably before it rose 1, 5 degrees.

It requires far-reaching and structural upheavals that the world community has not yet embarked on so it is now expected that prime ministers and presidents will once again remind each other of how crucial the climate fight is – rather than making binding agreements.

How have the countries been selected?
The Americans themselves have composed the participants of the meeting and leaders from all 17 economies that make up the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change (MEF) have been invited. The 17 economies together are responsible for about 80 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. The culprits are Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, China, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, South Korea, Germany, and the United States.

John Nordbo from Care Denmark says that Joe Biden has also supplemented with leaders from small island states, vulnerable countries, and some of the poorest nations, which are threatened by climate change. “ And then he has invited some of the countries that can show the way,” he adds.

Why is Denmark included?
“The Prime Minister’s invitation is a recognition that Denmark is one of the most ambitious green countries in the world. By setting the climate bar as high as we have done from the Danish side, we have also helped to draw the game board that everyone else is playing on now,” says the government’s climate ambassador, Thomas Anker Christensen.

Is the United States embarking on a green revolution?
Former President Donald Trump lifted the United States out of the Paris Agreement, Joe Biden plans to halve the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. “It is dangerous to use Trump as a yardstick because compared to him, everyone is doing well. But these are good rates, admits Helene Hagel, Greenpeace’s climate and environmental policy leader, who, however, would have liked to have seen the reduction target by 70 percent.

What is the world’s climate situation like?
Here, both researchers, NGOs, and Denmark’s climate ambassador agree: things are going badly, and the world is busy. If we do not manage to keep the global temperature down by about one and a half degrees, we probably will not have a habitable planet in the future. At least not for many people.

“The very simple risk is that we will set in motion an unstoppable melting of Greenland’s inland ice. It will create seven-meter high water rises. 14 meters, if Antarctica also melts, says John Nordbo from Care Denmark.

“It will cause huge areas to be flooded – also in Denmark.” He says.

Mette Larsen

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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