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Climate summit: Biden invites 40 world leaders, excludes Imran

Top Story

March 28, 2021


ISLAMABAD: The US President Joe Biden invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate he will host on April 22 and 23. However, Pakistan was the most notable omission from the list of invitees. The virtual Leaders Summit will be live streamed for public viewing.

President Biden took action his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement. Days later, on January 27, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders summit to galvanise efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.

The Leaders Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action, international media reported. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

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 that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach. The summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.

By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. In his invitation, the US president urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.

The summit will reconvene the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP. The president also invited the heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the Summit.

Leaders from India, Bangladesh, Antigua and Barbuda, Bhutan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria and Vietnam have been invited to participate in the summit, but not from Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan came out with a strong response asking for ‘inclusive cooperation’ to criticism that it had not been invited by Joe Biden to the Leaders Summit on Climate Change.

Defending its position on the importance that Pakistan gives to climate change, the Foreign Office pointed out that there was no doubt about the commitment to addressing climate change and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership on this account is well accepted and appreciated around the world.

“Climate Change is one of the defining challenges of our times that can only be countered through inclusive, cooperative and forward-looking policies. Pakistan remains fully committed to play its due role in this fight,” said the Foreign Office.

It pointed out that The Leaders Summit on Climate Change hosted by President Biden reconvenes the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together leaders from countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and GDP.

“The summit also includes representation from countries holding chairs of geographic regions and groups including least developed countries, small island developing states, and Climate Vulnerable Forum. Pakistan, despite being among the top 10 countries affected by Climate Change, is one of the lowest emitters - with less than 1 percent of the global emissions,” the Foreign Office added.

It also sent out a reminder that Pakistan is continuing to meaningfully contribute to shape the global climate change discourse, inter alia, as the vice president of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“The government’s landmark initiatives like the Billion Tree Tsunami have won international acclaim, including from the World Economic Forum. Pakistan also co-chaired the multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund, established to support climate actions in developing countries, last year,” added the Foreign Office.

The News understands that Pakistan will be attending the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 to which it has been invited.

Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director Asia Programme, in a tweet explained, “Many in Pakistan are unhappy Imran Khan isn’t on the list of invitees. It appears the main criteria for being invited are (1) Close partner of the US or (2) a major polluter or (3) highly vulnerable to climate change or (4) some combo of 1, 2, 3. Pakistan certainly qualifies for (3).