Countries pledge actions to fight climate change

More than 120 heads of state gathered Tuesday in New York City to outline efforts to fight climate change.

Commitments ranged from small measures to improve adaptations to the impacts of climate change, to broad promises to slash greenhouse gas emissions or rely entirely on renewable energy.

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Some countries also pledged to help poorer nations reduce their emissions or cope with climate change.

In the United States, President Obama will issue an executive order directing all federal agencies to consider climate change resilience when funding international projects. Obama will announce the order later Tuesday.

The U.S. Agency for International Development already makes such considerations, but the order would expand that effort across the federal government.

Obama’s actions will also include some new tools to help foreign countries prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

The European Union committed to cutting its carbon pollution 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso further stated the bloc’s goal of cutting carbon 80 to 95 percent by 2050.

The cuts could come without harming the economy, Barroso said. EU nations plan to increase clean energy use to 27 percent of its electricity while improving energy efficiency by 30 percent.

Denmark will reduce its emissions 40 percent by 2020, it said, with a goal to end fossil fuel use by 2050.

For Ireland, Prime Minister Enda Kenny pledged to cut 80 percent of emissions by 2050.

France said it will give about $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a U.N. project to help developing nations cope with climate change and cut emissions.

The climate fund got some other commitments as well. Switzerland will give $100 million, as will South Korea. Denmark pledged $70 million.

The United Kingdom is on track to reduce its emissions 80 percent by 2050, Prime Minister David Cameron said. He also committed 4 billion pounds ($6.5 billion) to international financing for climate resilience and emissions reductions.

Other nations’ heads of state announced various pledges:

  • Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome wants to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
  • Mexico said a third of its electric generation will come from renewables by 2018.
  • Ninety percent of Nicauragua’s electricity will use renewable sources by 2020.
  • Iceland plans to completely stop using fossil fuels.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not attending the U.N. summit. But his government announced Tuesday that it is moving forward on three regulatory fronts to reduce emissions from cars and trucks, which officials said would harmonize Canada’s regulations with those of the United States.
  • Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, did not reveal any specific commitments, though he said Japan will announce some pledges “as soon as possible.” Japan will also consider a contribution to the climate fund.