The Japan News on how world leaders responded at the United Nations Climate Action Summit

Global warming measures have entered the phase in which world leaders must not merely express their determination or reveal their targets but actually reduce greenhouse gases. To what extent have world leaders been able to deepen their recognition of this?

The Climate Action Summit was held at U.N. headquarters, where world leaders gathered to discuss global warming.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled policies of doubling the budgets for battling climate change and promoting the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. French President Emmanuel Macron said his country will increase its contribution to a fund which extends support to developing countries, helping them to adapt to changes that result from global warming such as rising sea levels.

Toward achieving the targets set out under the Paris Agreement, an international framework for fighting global warming, 77 countries have reportedly committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The question is whether it is possible to realize the target. It won’t be easy for any country under dire economic circumstances to proceed with environmental measures that impose burdens on its citizens.

Even since the Paris accord was adopted in 2015, the brakes have not been applied to greenhouse gas emissions, which have increased. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018 reached a record high. The average global temperature for the 2015-19 period is expected to be the warmest on record.

It is feared that natural disasters, in the form of typhoons, floods, droughts and the like, will become more likely. Besides human losses, economic activity will also suffer a blow.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed to world leaders, saying, “The biggest cost is doing nothing.” The Paris accord is to be implemented from 2020. The endeavors of the signatories to implement their commitments should be accelerated.

First of all, the United States and China, which are the two largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, each need to assume due responsibility.

The United States has announced its withdrawal from the accord, and is moving ahead with easing environmental regulations. U.S. President Donald Trump made an appearance at the summit but did not make a speech.

Wang Yi, Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said, “Developed countries need to take the lead in reducing (greenhouse gas) emissions,” emphasizing China’s position on the part of developing countries. As a major economic power, it is irresponsible for China to say this.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe forewent his attendance at the summit, as he was unable to adjust his schedule. At a meeting related to the summit, Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said Japan will cooperate with other countries “to realize a decarbonized society.” Japan should promote the development of materials produced by reusing CO2 and support developing countries with energy-saving technologies.

Movements among young people, mainly in Western countries, calling for governments to accelerate their global climate measures have become spirited. A 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist told world leaders during the summit meeting that “you are failing us.”

Implementing appropriate policies and passing better environments down to the next generation — leaders of countries must assume this grave responsibility.

The Washington Post on a decrease in child death rates worldwide

Humankind knows no greater tragedy than the death of a small child. Thanks to quiet but powerful progress in public health, that tragedy is far less common than it once was — including in the planet’s developing regions. As recently as 1990, the global annual rate of death for children under the age of 5 was 82 for every 1,000 live births. Last year, that rate was 37 per 1,000 live births. If the present trend continues, the rate could reach 28 by 2030. And with additional effort from private agencies and governments, it could fall even further, hitting the target, 25 per 1,000, set under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Many factors account for these improving numbers, which are laid out in a report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Economic growth is one: More than a quarter of the decline in child mortality over the past 28 years occurred in booming India, where 1.2 million fewer children died in 2017 than in 2000. Actions by governmental and nongovernmental agencies, to distribute lifesaving technology and medicines more widely, also were essential. Political stability and the relative absence of major war helped, too; only in Syria, scene of a horrific conflict since 2011, has the rate of child mortality not improved.

Child mortality is far from the only area of improvement. In fact, the Gates Foundation’s report notes, “Health and education are improving everywhere in the world.” ...

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