EU official: Leaders owe it to youth to act on climate

BERLIN (AP) — World leaders owe it to young people to take strong action to curb global warming in return for the solidarity they’ve shown to older people during the pandemic, the European Union’s top climate official said Tuesday.

Frans Timmermans, the European Commission Vice President, said the coronavirus outbreak had demonstrated the importance of generations looking out for each other.

“Young people in many places have diligently followed all restrictions, despite not running great risks themselves,” Timmermans told an online climate gathering bringing together the 27-nation bloc, China, the United States and others. “I believe we must now repay that solidarity by taking decisive climate action.”

Youth activists have long argued that they will bear the brunt of the climate change impact forecast by the end of the century, long after the current generation of world leaders has died.

Timmermans also told the 5th Ministerial for Climate Action, which was hosted by China, to heed scientists’ warnings that the world is “getting close to existential tipping points” and acknowledge that current pledges on reducing greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris accord.

His appeal was echoed by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.

“This should not be a year to wring our hands and point fingers,” the former Secretary of State told the closed-doors meeting, according to a transcript of his remarks. “This must be the year to point the way to a cleaner future and to join hands in a cooperative journey to get there — for all of us and all our people.”

The Biden administration would announce new U.S. targets for cutting emissions “soon,” Kerry said.

Timmermans said the EU will aim to adopt a new climate law within a month and propose ways before the summer to cut emissions by at least 55% over the next decade.

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