The Latest: Biggest polluters did not make climate pledge

World biggest polluters are not among the dozens of countries that committing to carbon neutrality by 2050

ByThe Associated Press
September 23, 2019, 9:07 PM
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS -- The Latest on the Climate Action Summit taking place at the United Nations (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

The 77 nations committing to carbon neutrality by 2050 do not include the biggest carbon polluters — China, the United States, India, Russia and Japan.

Most of the nations who made the pledge Monday don't emit that much carbon dioxide, and the U.N.'s special envoy to the summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba, conceded that the total emissions from the 77 pledges total far less than half the globe's heat-trapping gases.

"We have reason to not claim success if you want," de Alba said at a post-summit press conference, "but we recognize how important the process has been for those countries that are leading and committed to deliver."

De Alba did, however, classify as a victory President Donald Trump's brief presence at the summit after the American president had said he would not attend.

"Having the president of the United States in the room I think, it was a very positive signal," de Alba said.


8 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says "the tide is turning" as a summit dedicated to combating climate change has concluded.

Guterres on Monday listed 77 countries that committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, though those countries combined produce far less than half the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

Seventy nations also pledged to do more to fight climate change, 100 business leaders promised to join the green economy and one-third of the global banking sector signed up to green goals.

"Action by action the tide is turning," Guterres said. "But we have a long way to go. We are not yet there."

Still, the large number of coal power plants that are scheduled to be built is "a looming threat," he said, repeating his call for no new coal plants to be built after next year.


5:30 p.m.

Sixteen young activists including Sweden's Greta Thunberg have filed a formal U.N. complaint about governments' lack of action on climate.

In Monday's complaint, filed with the U.N. group that protects children's rights, the youths from a dozen countries and ranging in ages from 8 to 17, contend their rights are being violated not just because of severe weather, but also because of lack of food and water and an increase in refugees.

The UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child allows youth or adults to directly appeal to the United Nations if they feel a country is violating children's rights.

The activists filed the complaint as world leaders met at a climate summit sponsored by the United Nations.


5 p.m.

Businesses and charities also got in on the climate act, at times even going bigger than some of the major nations whose leaders were meeting at the United Nations.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced late Monday that his foundation, along with The World Bank and some European governments, would provide $790 million to 300 million small farmers across the globe adapt to climate change.

The Gates foundation would foot $310 million of that.

"The world can still prevent the absolute worst effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing new technologies and sources of energy," Gates said. "But the effects of rising temperatures are already under way."


4 p.m.

As world leaders talked about doing something to counter climate change, the globe on Monday hit another mark indicating a warming climate.

Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.6 million square miles (4.15 million square kilometers) for the annual summer low, which tied the second lowest mark on record.

"There is no evidence of any recovery of the sea ice,' said Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. "We are heading toward a seasonally ice-free Arctic ocean."

The announcement came as dozens of world leaders met at a climate summit sponsored by the United Nations.

As China criticized the United States for pulling out of the 2015 Paris agreement, Russia announced that it had ratified the pact, which it had signed already.


3 p.m.

Outside experts say they are hearing a lot of talk at a U.N.-sponsored climate conference, but none of the promised action needed to keep future warming to a few tenths of a degree.

They say the words from leaders aren't adding up to the dramatic changes the world needs.

Bill Hare, who follows national emissions and promises for Climate Action Tracker, called what was said "deeply disappointing."

Economist John Reilly, co-director of MIT's Joint Center for Global Change says he hears promises but isn't seeing many accomplishments.

David Waskow, international climate chief at the World Resources Institute, said smaller nations are making commitments, but the big carbon polluters the U.S., China, the European Union and others which make up the majority of emissions still aren't stepping up.


12:30 p.m.

In a none-too-subtle jibe at Trump's plans to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, said countries "must honor our commitments and follow through on the Paris Agreement."

"The withdrawal of certain parties will not shake the collective goal of the world community," Wang said to applause.

He made the remarks Monday at climate summit sponsored by the United Nations where more than 60 world leaders were scheduled to speak.

Earlier, Trump made a quick, unscheduled stop at the conference, listened quietly and left without saying anything.


12:05 p.m.

While presidents and premiers talked about what they hoped to do within their own borders, French President Emmanuel Macron reminded his colleagues that they need to include climate change in their trade and finance policies.

Macron said countries should not import goods that increase carbon pollution nor fund polluting plants in other countries.

He also begged other nations to increase their pledges to the Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer nation with climate issues. France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have recently doubled their pledges.

"We are now at $7 billion," Macron said. "The target is $10 billion to make for the United States withdrawal" and he then suggested America should reconsider adding money to other leaders' applause.


11:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has made an unscheduled brief stop at the U.N.'s Climate Action summit.

With the lights down and the program under way, Trump spent about 15 minutes at the summit, but did not speak.

He listened attentively as German Chancellor Merkel and India's Narenda Modi spoke before leaving.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the UN's special climate envoy, thanked Trump for stopping by. He added that it might prove useful to Trump "when you formulate climate policy" to a bit of laughter and applause on the General Assembly floor.


10:50 a.m.

The United Nations is kicking off an all-day session to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the Climate Action Summit on Monday by saying: "Earth is issuing a chilling cry: Stop."

Guterres told world leaders that it's not a time to negotiate but to act to make the world carbon neutral by 2050. He wants to limit global temperature increases to a few more tenths of a degree, and he said the world can do it.

More than 60 world leaders are set to speak, kicking off with leaders from New Zealand, the hard-hit Marshall Islands, India and Germany.

The United States is not on the agenda, but a spokeswoman said President Donald Trump may pop in.

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