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U.N. climate summit asks some countries to detail progress, as others face pressure

Countries seen as taking strong action against climate change will speak Wednesday at a special climate summit, with the oil-exporting United Arab Emirates set to take the last slot.

With this year’s annual U.N. climate summit, COP28, set to take place later this year in the UAE city of Dubai, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has implored national policymakers to step up efforts to rein in climate-warming emissions.

“I’m not sure all leaders are feeling the heat,” Guterres said during his opening remarks at this week’s U.N. General Assembly in New York, adding that efforts were “falling abysmally short.”

A total of 34 nations were asked to speak at Wednesday’s Climate Ambition Summit, including Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Pakistan, South Africa and the island nation of Tuvalu.

Missing from the list are the world’s two top polluters – the United States and China – though U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry is expected to be in the audience. China’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond for comment.

While the UAE was not among the countries selected by Guterres to talk about their climate plans, the UAE’s COP28 President Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber will speak at the end about the country’s priorities for that two-week summit starting Nov. 29.

Guterres said he hopes the one-day mini summit will inspire more investment and action by both countries and companies to bring their climate plans in line with the global target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

The climate summit was also set to hear from several non-member states and international financial institutions, including the global travel insurer Allianz (ETR:ALVG), multilateral lending agencies including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as London and the U.S. state of California.

The summit’s purpose is not to “embarrass” countries who are lagging in action, but rather to showcase those who are moving forward, said Guterres’ climate adviser Selwin Hart in an interview with Reuters this week. Only countries planning to update their emissions-cutting targets toward achieving net-zero emissions, including some committing to phase out fossil fuel use without relying on carbon offsets, were invited to speak.

A U.N. report this month said current emissions pledges were insufficient for keeping the global average temperature going 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond the preindustrial average. More than 20 gigatonnes of further CO2 reductions were needed this decade – and global net zero by 2050 – in order to meet the goals.


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