US President invites two Caribbean prime ministers to climate summit

Gaston Browne

WASHINGTON — United States President Joe Biden has invited two Caribbean prime ministers to his “Leaders Summit on Climate” to take place virtually at the White House on April 22 and 23.

A White House statement said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his Jamaican counterpart, Andrew Holness, were invited to the summit among 40 world leaders.

The White House noted that President Biden “took action” his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Days later, on January 27, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders summit “to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis”.

Andrew Holness

It said that the “Leaders Summit on Climate” will underscore the urgency — and the economic benefits — of stronger climate action.

“It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow (Scotland),” the statement said.

In recent years, it said scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

“A key goal of both the ‘Leaders Summit’ and COP26 will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach,” the White House said. “The summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good-paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.”

By the time of the summit, the White House said the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new “Nationally Determined Contribution” under the Paris Agreement.

In his invitation, Biden urged leaders to use the summit as “an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition”.

The White House said the summit will reconvene the US-led “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate”, which brings together 17 countries responsible for about 80 per cent of global emissions and global gross domestic product (GDP).

The US president also invited the heads of other countries that are “demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy,” the White House said.

It said a few businesses and civil society leaders will also participate in the summit.

The White House said key themes of the summit will include galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this “critical decade” to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach; and mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts.

Other key themes will include the economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy; and spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.

In addition, the White House said the summit will showcase sub-national and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience; and discuss opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net-zero by 2050 goals.