Sep 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Inside the UN's fraught climate huddle

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media on the Informal Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action at UN Headquarters.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media at the Informal Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action at UN Headquarters. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

A closed-door, head-of-state level meeting at the United Nations Monday with nearly two-dozen leaders and emissaries showcased the rifts between countries on core climate policy issues.

Why it matters: These gaps must be narrowed during the next few weeks in order to avert a failed U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow.

State of play: The meeting, called by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, featured an unusually candid exchange of views between world leaders, a member of a climate negotiating team who observed the meeting told Axios.

  • Wealthy nations' failure to deliver on their 2009 pledge of $100 billion in annual financial assistance to the developing world — first promised in 2009, emerged as a major source of distrust and anger, the member said.
  • Jochen Flasbarth, Germany's deputy environment minister, told the AP the meeting was “very frank and outspoken — not polite."

Threat level: There are huge gaps remaining between the emissions cuts countries have pledged to make and what is needed in order to keep the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C (2.7°F) target viable.

  • The U.N. warned last week that if all current emissions pledges are fulfilled, the world would still warm by 2.7°C (4.9°F) above preindustrial levels by 2100.

What we're watching: President Biden is scheduled to speak at the U.N. at 10am ET, and he is expected to announce additional U.S. funding.

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