US envoy Kerry heads to India, Bangladesh for climate talks, skips Pakistan

Biden ignored Pakistan at his government's first summit on climate change to be held on April 22

Reuters April 01, 2021
Former US secretary of state John Kerry. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


US climate envoy John Kerry will hold talks with Indian leaders during an Asian tour starting on Thursday in an effort to narrow differences on climate change goals to slow global warming.

However, the US envoy is not scheduled to hold talks with Pakistan, which is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Biden ignored Pakistan at his government's first summit on climate change to be held on April 22 and 23. The US president has invited 40 heads of state and government, including leaders of India, Bangladesh and Bhutan – from the South Asian region.

According to a White House announcement on Friday, the virtual summit would be addressed by leaders of Russia, China, Argentina, Australia, France, Indonesia, Germany, Israel, Canada, Japan, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Denmark, Colombia, Congo, Chile, Jamaica and other countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is facing calls from the United States and Britain to commit India, the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter, to a net-zero emissions target by 2050.

"First Pakistan was left off the invitation list for the White House's upcoming global climate summit. Now US climate czar John Kerry is headed to India and Bangladesh for consultations," said Michael Kugelman, a scholar of South Asian affairs at the Woodrow Wilson Centre.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Malik Amin Aslam said earlier that the countries invited to the summit fell in two categories and added that Pakistan did not belong to any of those. He did not explain the two categories. He said that the foreign ministry had been tasked to clarify the summit.

Responding to a query, the Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson had stated that the summit hosted by President Biden reconvenes the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together leaders from countries responsible for approximately 80% of global emissions and GDP.

“Pakistan, despite being among the top ten countries affected by Climate Change, is one of the lowest emitters – with less than one percent of the global emissions,” the spokesperson had said.

He had added that the US summit includes representation from countries holding chairs of geographic regions and groups including least-developed countries, small island developing states, and the climate vulnerable forum.

India, whose per capita emissions are way lower than that of the United States, European countries and even China, is concerned that binding itself to such a target could constrain the energy needs of its people.

Kerry kicks off his trip on Thursday that will also take him to the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh, which experts say is especially vulnerable to climate change as it has large numbers of people living in areas barely above sea level, and lacks infrastructure to protect them.

“Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry will travel to Abu Dhabi, New Delhi, and Dhaka  April 1-9, 2021, for consultations on increasing climate ambition ...” the State Department said.

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Kerry is leading efforts to get countries to commit themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by about the middle of the century.

President Joe Biden has called a summit of 40 leaders including India and China on April 22-23.

Later this year world leaders will gather for the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow to build on a 2015 Paris accord to halt the increase in global temperatures at levels that would avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“Looking forward to meaningful discussions with friends in the Emirates, India, and Bangladesh on how to tackle the climate crisis,” Kerry tweeted.

India says it will not only stick to the Paris accord to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030 but will likely exceed those goals as it ramps up use of renewable energy.



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