By Ryann Howard
Scientific findings have made it abundantly clear—all countries must dramatically scale up efforts between now and 2030 to meet the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. The Leaders Summit on Climate, held in April 2021, was the Biden-Harris Administration’s first major effort to raise global support for this goal. The next crucial moment is quickly approaching: the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). From Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, more than 190 countries will gather in Glasgow, United Kingdom, to deliver on the promise of the Paris Agreement by outlining their plans to address the climate crisis over the coming decade. The commitments that countries bring to Glasgow will determine whether the most dangerous consequences of climate change can be avoided.
The Department of State’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate—led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry—the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, and other key offices and U.S. government agencies are working diligently to strengthen and encourage ambitious action to tackle the climate crisis at COP26 and beyond. The United States has committed to reducing U.S. emissions by up to 52 percent in 2030, and President Joe Biden also pledged to quadruple U.S. climate finance for developing countries by 2024. As others have pointed out, this is the first generation to feel the impacts of a warming climate and the last that can do anything about it. The window of time is small, and the urgency is great. But the United States is at its best when it rallies the world to confront big, complex issues—and that’s exactly the type of existential challenge that climate change presents.
Ryann Howard is the public outreach specialist in the Office of Policy and Public Outreach in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.