US should follow EU and China in setting carbon-neutral target, says UN's World Meteorological Organisation

The World Meteorological Organisation said it hoped the US would aim to become carbon neutral like the EU and China.
The World Meteorological Organisation said it hoped the US would aim to become carbon neutral like the EU and China.PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (REUTERS) - The United States should join the European Union and China in setting ambitious goals to become carbon neutral, the head of the UN's World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Tuesday (Oct 13).

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the UN General Assembly last month that China aimed to become carbon neutral by 2060, while the European Union has pledged to achieve such status by 2050.

"All in all I think that this announcement is great, since at least European Union countries and China are now sharing common reason, that's very good news. And I hope that also the US will join that club in the near future," Mr Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary-general, told a briefing in Geneva.

Mr Xi used the UN lectern to call for multilateral action on climate change after US President Donald Trump called the Paris climate agreement - with nearly 200 signatories - a one-sided accord and criticised China for being the world's largest carbon emitter.

"If we fail with climate mitigation then we would see problems which are of a very different magnitude when it comes to human suffering and also economic losses," Mr Taalas said.

"Also, in the United States, there has been good progress especially the private sector, and several states have been investing in climate-friendly technologies," he added.

Global temperatures will continue to warm over the next five years, and may even temporarily rise to more than 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels, the WMO said in July.

Scientists have set 1.5 deg C as the ceiling for avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Responding to a question from Chinese Central Television, Mr Taalas said: "China is contributing 25 per cent of the global emissions and one of your major challenges is that your energy production is very much based on coal-fired power plants."

But China has made record investments in renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy, and has become a significant exporter of such technology worldwide, he said.