The one-day United Nations Climate Action Summit held on Monday was supposed to end with world leaders promising more concrete action to tackle the worsening effects of climate change. However, the day ended with few commitments and a lack of initiative, most notably from the biggest greenhouse gas emitters: China, India and the United States.
President Donald Trump unexpectedly made an appearance at the conference but failed to announce any new commitments, not surprising considering that under his government the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement and has rolled back numerous environmental regulations meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions. For their part, both China and India gave updates on their nationally determined contribution (NDC) plans, but gave no indication their governments would do more to tackle the issue. In fact, ahead of the conference the two countries demanded developed countries provide financial support to improve their climate plans. Announcements by other major greenhouse gas emitters, like Japan, also fell short.
The silver lining however, was the announcement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres that 70 countries are planning to come up with tougher NDCs by 2020. Included in that list are the nine Latin American countries who have set a collective target to use 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. According to Colombian Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and Peru are part of the pact with Panama and Brazil still considering the proposal. The plan would put them far ahead of the European Union’s renewable energy target which is 32 percent.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to commit by 2020 to more aggressive climate plans. Countries have until the UN COP25 held in Santiago, Chile this December to fine tune their NDCs and present how they’ll reach these goals.