Alok Sharma has said the warning lights “are flashing bright red” for the planet in the race to halt catastrophic climate change, adding more needs to be done to limit warming to 1.5C.
Speaking at the Leaders Summit on Climate Change hosted by President Joe Biden, the COP26 president welcomed the range of newly announced net-zero by 2050 carbon commitments.
He said that although 70% of the global economy is now covered by such a commitment, the world must move faster to phase out coal and help developing countries decarbonise.
Mr Sharma also welcomed the US “returning to the fold” of the Paris Agreement, which it left under Donald Trump.
“Before a baby born today has even finished primary education, the future will be set,” he said.
“We all know that the next decade will be make or break for planet Earth and the warning lights are flashing bright red.”
President Biden’s government announced this week the US would cut greenhouse gasses by between 50% to 52% on 2005’s levels by 2030.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced 40% to 45% cuts over the same time frame.
Elsewhere, China’s President Xi Jinping promised the nation’s coal use would peak this decade, while South Korea pledged to stop funding overseas coal.
Mr Sharma said: “With today’s announcements from the US from Canada, from Japan, every G7 country now has a nationally determined contribution (NDC) that puts them on a path to net zero by 2050.
“This is a significant step towards keeping 1.5C within reach, from a group of countries who have a responsibility to lead.”
But Mr Sharma said the “key question” was whether the global community had done enough to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement, adding: “The answer to that question is still ‘no, not yet’.”
He said that between Thursday’s summit and COP 26 in Glasgow this autumn, world leaders “must be serious about supporting developing countries”.
Mr Sharma continued: “We must prove that we are up to the challenge, and we must make COP26 that turning point at which we get back on track and make the goals of the price agreement reality.”
He called on countries to take “immediate action” to meet their NDC targets, particularly through the phase out of coal and through developing adaptation strategies to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
Mr Sharma said: “We must all see ourselves as champions of developing countries whose call for action we have heard loud and clear today.”
He continued: “Climate change, we all know, does not respect borders and tackling it is absolutely a global effort.”
Mr Sharma also called on rich nations to deliver on their promise of 100 billion US dollars of financing to developed countries to fight climate change – a target supposed to be reached by 2020 under the Paris Agreement.
“This is the defining issue of our political age, the one against which future generations will judge us, above all others, but I do believe that we can and we must rise to the occasion,” Mr Sharma said.