Asian climate advocates back Biden’s new tack, urge China to join US-led Climate Leaders Summit

Published April 16, 2021, 6:37 PM

by Roy Mabasa

A Manila-based climate and environmental advocacy group on Friday said they ‘welcome the winds of change’ in the United States ushered in by the Biden administration, while calling on China to participate in the US-initiated Climate Leaders summit on April 22-23.

“We welcome the winds of change in the US ushered in by the Biden administration. The new US government’s positions and pledges on climate change and fossil fuels represent a world of difference from the Trump era,” Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), said.

In a statement, the APMDD urged China to participate “meaningfully” in the Climate Leaders Summit to show its commitment to pave the way for a “fossil-fuel-free Asia and fossil fuel-free future”.

“Climate actions by China and the US are absolutely vital to prevent climate catastrophe,” Nacpil said.

The statement was made even as John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and other senior Biden Cabinet officials have been making a whirlwind tour of Asia for the past several weeks. The Biden officials have discussed with their Asian counterparts topics ranging from the South China Sea maritime issue to climate change challenges and concerns. 

Nacpil, however, noted that the Biden administration’s targets are still short of the US fair shares of climate action.”  “The US must deliver fully on its fair share as the world’s largest historical and continuing emitter greenhouse gases.”

“Its obligations include mitigation actions as well as delivering on climate finance for countries in the Global South,” she said.

The APMDD also called on both China and the US to end their domestic coal use and their overseas financing of new coal-fired power plant projects and coal plant expansions and other fossil fuel projects.

Nacpil said the US must drastically cut its carbon emissions to meet its “fair share” in the global mitigation effort needed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

On Thursday, the Philippines submitted to the United Nations (UN) its target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75 percent by the year 2030.

Called the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the Philippine target promises to cut down its GHG emissions by 75 percent from 2020 to 2030.

However, only 2.71 percent of the target is ‘unconditional’, meaning the government commits to making this reduction using its own resources, with or without external aid,  while the remaining 72.2 percent reduction would only be met with assistance from the international community.