Extract of Claire Healy’s discussion on the US Leaders Summit on Climate
Claire, thanks so much for being with us. It was a long day, and there were a lot of commitments. What’s the best thing you heard, and what was the most disappointing thing you heard?
I thought today was a great day. When you’ve been working on climate diplomacy it’s been a hard slog these parts four years. So I was just really happy to see everybody – to see the US back in action leading at these conversations, and committing to halve their emissions by 2030 – I was pleased by the NDC. I think I had lower expectations. I was pleased China showed up, and they talked about coal and said they were going to lower it. But it shows that climate can be an area still for countries to cooperate even if they are competing in other areas. What disappointed me today was, I have to say, the finance pledges. I liked the structural changes to the financial system but we still need the G7 countries to step up with more public finances. I was a bit disappointed by that. And also Canada. I wished Canada had also committed to 50% reduction. Because then we could have said the G7 have all committed to halving emissions by 2030. And then that would be a paradigm shift to a new normal.
You use that term NDC – that’s nationally determined contributions – is it fair to say they’re at the heart of the Paris agreement and that everything we’re seeing now is setting the ground, for COP26 in Glasgow later in the year?
That’s correct. Yes, they’re targets where countries are saying, this is by how much they are going to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions – which is basically the name of the game, to limit the temperature increase we must stop putting heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. So these are the targets countries have said they can reduce their emissions. Basically, we do need a reality check. It’s great rhetoric today and it’s great seeing everybody. But the fact is, emissions are still going up and they need to go down. And there are tough decisions ahead, big decisions, to get the emissions cuts we need.