Climate change focus for UK PM Boris Johnson at UN General Assembly

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call upon world leaders to take a “concrete action” on climate change during his meetings at the high-level United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, according to Downing Street on Sunday.

More than 100 Heads of State and Government as well as Foreign Ministers and diplomats will participate in-person in the annual General Debate, beginning September 21 through September 27.

Prime Minister Johnson, who will also visit the White House for the first time since Joe Biden became the US President, will be joining Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the UNGA meeting among the world leaders scheduled to attend the meeting in person.

The visit is seen as an important precursor to the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) UN climate summit, to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November.

“World leaders have a small window of time left to deliver on their climate commitments ahead of COP26,” Johnson said ahead of the UNGA.

“My message to those I meet this week will be clear: future generations will judge us based on what we achieve in the coming months. We need to continue to make a case for a sustainable recovery from coronavirus rooted in green growth.”

“And we have a responsibility to ensure the benefits of that growth extend to all, no matter where they are born,” he said.

According to the UK media reports, Johnson intends to push for an action on coal, climate, cars and trees in particular.

Downing Street said he would focus on supporting developing nations to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis, as well as on adapting to its consequences.

Johnson will reportedly attempt to persuade China to quicken its timetable for reducing emissions.

UK’s COP26 president-designate Alok Sharma revealed to ‘Sky News’ on Sunday that Chinese President Xi Jinping is yet to confirm attendance at the crucial Scotland summit and said details on the country’s emission cuts are awaited.

“There is no doubt that China is going to be part of the key to all of this,” said Sharma.

“They are the biggest emitter in the world. What President Xi Jinping has said is that they are going to strictly restrict the use of coal in this next five-year period, from 2026 they are going to phase down. But we want to see the detail of that. That is what we are pressing them.”

“They have said to me they want the COP26 to be a success. The ball is in their court. We want them to come forward and make it a success together with the rest of the world,” Sharma said.

Experts said that to avoid the worst climate impacts, carbon emissions must be cut by 45 per cent by 2030.

However, on current policies, emissions could rise by 16 per cent in this period.

Prime Minister Johnson is also set to travel to Washington, where he is expected to hold talks with US President Biden on the future of Afghanistan and further efforts to stem a humanitarian crisis in the region.

According to reports, an easing up of UK-US travel is also likely to be taken up, with the US administration having imposed a ban due to soaring rates of the Delta variant of coronavirus earlier this year.

The fallout from the new AUKUS military pact between the UK, the US and Australia is also expected to be under discussion.

Under the agreement, Australia is being given the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines.

It had triggered a diplomatic row with France, which feels betrayed over its own submarine deal with Australia.

The newly-promoted UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, used a column in The Sunday Telegraph to defend AUKUS.

“Freedoms need to be defended, so we are also building strong security ties around the world.”

“This is about more than foreign policy in the abstract, but delivering for people across the UK and beyond by partnering with like-minded countries to build coalitions based on shared values and shared interests,” she said.

The alliance — widely seen as an effort to counter China’s influence in the contested South China Sea —  was announced by US President Biden, UK Prime Minister Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison earlier this week.

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