Climate change: UN summit to open without key leaders

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Several key world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, will not take part in a special UN climate summit opening in New York.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has said countries can only speak at the summit if they come with action plans to reduce carbon emissions.

Brazil and Saudi Arabia are also among the countries staying away.

The summit comes days after several million people took part in a global climate strike led by youth activists.

Some of those campaigners, including Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, will address delegates.

Ahead of the one-day summit, scientists warned the signs and impacts of global warming were speeding up.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 had grown by 20% compared with the previous five years.

"We should listen to the loud cry coming from the schoolchildren," said Prof Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, and professor of meteorology at the University of Reading.

"There is an emergency – one for action in both rapidly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions towards zero and adapting to the inevitable changes in climate."

Mr Guterres, who organised the summit, has said he expects "a number of meaningful plans on dramatically reducing emissions during the next decade, and on reaching carbon neutrality by 2050" will be unveiled in New York.

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He wants the world to move away from fossil fuels and to stop building new coal-fired power stations after 2020.

The special meeting comes ahead of the next international climate negotiations next year.

So, who's attending and who's absent?

Some 60 leaders, including the UK's Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, are expected to take the podium to deliver their pledges.

But the sensitive issue of coal reportedly means that Japan and Australia – whose leaders are not attending – will not be given a platform.

"People can only speak if they come with positive steps. That is kind of a ticket," Mr Guterres said. "For bad news, don't come."

Japan's Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi denied Japan had been barred from speaking, saying it had received an invitation, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could not attend.

However, China and India have been given a podium place despite leading the world in developing new coal capacity.

The majority of India's electricity still comes from coal burning, and Chinese institutions are the largest finances of coal plants across the globe, according to data quoted by the CarbonBrief website.

Mr Trump is also in New York and will be at the UN headquarters, but will attend an event on religious freedom instead. The US will be represented at the climate summit by a senior official for the environment.

In 2017, President Trump announced his intention to pull the US out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, saying the international deal to keep global temperatures rises below 2Ck was disadvantageous to US workers.

However, the US has not yet completed its withdrawal from the agreement.

Mr Trump's administration has rolled back dozens of environmental and climate protections and proposed ending rules on oil drilling and coal plants.

In New York, PriRead More – Source