US rejoins fight against climate change at high-level summit

Rising seas and greater storms could force hundreds of millions in coastal cities out of their homes. PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - The United States will mark its return to the global fight against climate change on Monday (Jan 25) by joining high-level talks on ways to better protect people and economies from the effects of global warming already taking place.

Less than a week after President Joe Biden announced the return of the US to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, his Special Climate Envoy John Kerry will join China's Deputy Prime Minister Han Zheng, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders at the Climate Adaptation Summit.

This online event, hosted by the Netherlands, aims to set out practical solutions and plans for dealing with climate change in the period until 2030.

Ahead of the summit, more than 3,000 scientists from across the globe pressed leaders to better protect people from the fall out of global warming.

"Our fast-warming world is already experiencing major disruptions from more intense droughts, fires, heatwaves, floods, destructive tropical cyclones and other extreme events", the scientists, including five Nobel laureates, said in a statement.

"Unless we step up and adapt now, the results will be increasing poverty, water shortages, agricultural losses and soaring levels of migration with an enormous toll on human life."

Climate change could depress global food production by up to 30 per cent, while rising seas and greater storms could force hundreds of millions in coastal cities out of their homes, summit organiser the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) said.

"There is no vaccine for climate change", GCA chair and former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told reporters on the eve of the event. "It is happening much, much faster than we think, causing cascading risks and impact. Building resilience to climate change is not nice to have, it is a must have."

No binding commitments will be made at the summit, but leaders will try to set an action agenda, charting plans and proposals to create a climate resilient planet by the end of the decade.

Britain said it plans to team up with Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, Saint Lucia and the Netherlands in an initiative that could include early warning systems for storms and investments in flood drainage and in drought-resistant crops.

SPH Brightcove Video
World leaders are holding a high-level and largely virtual summit on climate change. Former Secretary of State John Kerry is representing the United States, just days after President Biden's order to return to the 2015 Paris climate accord.

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