Biden hosts 40 world leaders for climate summit, including five African presidents from Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Gabon and DRC

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday hosted 40 world leaders for a two-day virtual climate summit, including five presidents from Africa.

Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry participates in a briefing Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West) 
Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry participates in a briefing Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)

The African leaders are from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is the current chairperson of the African Union, made the list of those who were invited from Africa. Others are President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.

President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030.

In a statement on March 26, the White House said the Leaders Summit on Climate will “underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action.  It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.”

It added: “In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.  A key goal of both the Leaders Summit and COP26 will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach.  The Summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.

“By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.  In his invitation, the President urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.

“The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP.  The President also invited the heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy.  A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the Summit.”

Key themes of the Summit include:

  • Galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach.
  • Mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts. 
  • The economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy.
  • Spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.
  • Showcasing subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience.
  • Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net zero by 2050 goals. 

The President invited the following leaders to participate in the Summit:

  • Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda
  • President Alberto Fernandez, Argentina 
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia    
  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
  • Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bhutan
  • President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil    
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada          
  • President Sebastián Piñera, Chile 
  • President Xi Jinping, People’s Republic of China    
  • President Iván Duque Márquez, Colombia    
  • President Félix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark 
  • President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission
  • President Charles Michel, European Council
  • President Emmanuel Macron, France        
  • President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon        
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India    
  • President Joko Widodo, Indonesia      
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
  • Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy    
  • Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan  
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya      
  • President David Kabua, Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico  
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
  • President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria        
  • Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway 
  • President Andrzej Duda, Poland  
  • President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea     
  • President Vladimir Putin, The Russian Federation  
  • King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
  • President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa 
  • Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Spain
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey
  • President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
  • President Nguyễn Phú Trọng, Vietnam 
Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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