The climate crisis should be at the heart of the global Covid recovery

(The Guardian, 10 Dec 2020) Governments are pouring resources into economic recovery. It’s an opportunity for visionary climate policies.

María Fernanda Espinosa is a former president of the United Nations general assembly

In the early hours of 12 December, 2015, I stood together with world leaders to welcome the adoption of the Paris agreement on climate change. Years of negotiations and frustrating setbacks were capped by a two-minute round of applause for French foreign minister Laurent Fabius as he banged the gavel and ushered in an ostensibly greener, more sustainable future.

Five years on, the memory of Paris is bittersweet. Progress on what are termed the “nationally determined contributions” – the self-identified climate goals of each country – has been patchy at best, and action on all of the commitments remain worryingly low.

But there have been plenty of encouraging developments since 2015. In November 2021, Britain will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. Boris Johnson has set out a target to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030 – the fastest rate of any major economy so far. China announced at the UN general assembly in September that it plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, and Japan and South Korea have pledged zero net emissions by 2050. The United States, under its new president Joe Biden, will rejoin the Paris climate accord.

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The Guardian, 10 Dec 2020: The climate crisis should be at the heart of the global Covid recovery