Remarks at a Briefing on Preparations for COP26 (via VTC)

Ambassador Richard Mills
Acting Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 8, 2021


Thank you, Barbara, and thank you to the United Kingdom for hosting what’s been a very useful briefing. I want to thank Secretary-General Guterres, as well, and COP26 President Sharma for your leadership in organizing this conference. We’re deeply appreciative of the work and the progress that’s been made.

As several of my colleagues have mentioned, on his very first day in office, President Biden signed the instrument to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Other steps have been taken as well by the Administration; important steps related to climate change. One week later, the President signed an executive order, which instructed the U.S. government to take bold action to combat climate change, both within the United States and around the world. And on that same day, President Biden announced the United States will host a virtual Leaders’ Summit on Earth Day, April 22, to raise ambitions among major emitting countries to tackle what may be the greatest global challenge this generation faces.

This is all to say, that as many of you have commented, the United States is putting the climate crisis at the center of our foreign policy and our diplomacy. The United States consider it a serious threat to our national security and to global security. And the United States cannot and will not settle for a world in which the temperature has gone up by 3- or 4-degrees Celsius.

To protect our shared future, the United States is pursuing several lines of effort right now. These efforts include preparing a new, more aggressive emissions target under the Paris Agreement, developing a climate finance plan to galvanize global action, and putting together the transmittal package for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which we believe will address the harmful impact of short-lived climate pollutants. We are also engaging the private sector in line with what we’ve heard from the Secretary-General; we agree the private sector needs to play a vital role in combating the crisis.

Of course, that still won’t be enough. The United States cannot do this alone. And that’s why COP26 must succeed.

The climate crisis requires coordinated action in the lead-up to the conference. We need to help vulnerable countries increase their resilience and their ability to adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change. And we need greater global ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, if not sooner.

COP26 will only succeed if the biggest emitters lay out detailed road maps, in advance, for how they will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. We firmly believe that if countries show this kind of goodwill and solidarity, we will be able to take on the climate crisis together, and do so while driving sustainable growth across our economies.

U.S. negotiators look forward to actively engaging at COP26. We look forward to working with all of you in the weeks and months ahead to meet this moment and unite around the global goals that the science demands.

Thank you, Barbara.