By Judith Garber
On my very first walk around Nicosia two years ago, I passed a group of young Cypriots creating posters calling on their fellow citizens to take bold action on climate change. Their enthusiasm inspired me. In my past diplomatic roles, I have seen first-hand the concern and passion of youth for this planet and the challenges we share in protecting it.
The island of Cyprus is among the most climate-sensitive areas of Europe. It faces a number of challenges that have been made worse by climate change, including rising temperatures, desertification, threats to native and migratory species, and stress to its freshwater sources. Fortunately, Cyprus is also an important voice for climate change action. In 2019 President Anastasiades inaugurated the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative to develop a coordinated regional action plan. I commend the leadership of Cyprus for taking this step and continuing to invest in its success.
The United States is placing climate change at the centre of our foreign policy, diplomacy and national security. Today, on Earth Day, President Biden will host a virtual summit to catalyse international efforts to confront climate change. The summit is a key milestone on the road to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-26) this November in Glasgow. At COP-26, the United States will work with representatives from the world’s major economies on the vital goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. For the world to achieve this goal, all countries must work together to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The United States is taking action now to uphold our responsibility for the health of the planet at home and abroad. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to achieving a carbon-free power sector by 2035, putting the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050. This includes ensuring our government is using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2035. We are committing to conserving at least 30 per cent of our lands and waters by 2030, and developing a path for replacing government vehicles with zero-emission vehicles.
The European Union is a vital partner in the effort to achieve global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, making the Republic of Cyprus a key partner too. The EU has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, and to reduce emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030. As a partner of Cyprus and the European Union, the United States is prepared to bring our scientific thought and technical experience to help achieve these goals. Through US innovative, green technologies, we have helped countries save more water, use more renewable energy, and enjoy cleaner air. We stand ready to help Cyprus see those same benefits.
On this Earth Day, I look forward to working with our Cypriot partners to take action on climate change. This is a challenge no country can address alone. Much like the young Cypriots that inspired me with their passion in my first days here, the United States is dedicated to work with our partners around the world to preserve the health and safety of our shared planet Earth for future generations. We welcome all to join us in taking bold action now.
Judith Garber is the US ambassador to Cyprus