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'It's time for us all to act' - Ardern calls for end of fossil fuel subsidies at global climate summit

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies at a global climate summit convened by US President Joe Biden.

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Ardern talked about the country's commitment to a 2050 zero carbon target. Source: Reuters

"Fossil fuel subsidies undo any advances we make on pricing carbon," Ardern said at the summit today.

"We cannot take money from emmiters paying for the carbon emissions and then give them money back in subsidies."

In a statement this morning, Ardern said New Zealand was asked to specifically participate in the climate finance session of the summit as "a leader in this field".

"We used the summit to call on others to follow New Zealand’s lead and do the following four things: price carbon, make climate related financial disclosures mandatory, end fossil fuel subsidies, and finance adaptation," Ardern said after speaking.

"Our Pacific neighbours have identified climate change as the single biggest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.

"Our collective goal, here at this summit and beyond, has to be making commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

"Now it’s time for us all to act."

The US summit marshalled an impressive display of the world's most powerful leaders speaking on the single cause of climate change.

Leaders of smaller US states and island nations buffeted by rising seas and worsening hurricanes appealed for aid and fast emissions cuts from world powers.

Biden convened leaders of the world's most powerful countries to try to spur global efforts against climate change, drawing commitments from Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin to cooperate on cutting emissions despite their own sharp rivalries with the United States.

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The US President says the world’s entering a “decisive decade” for tackling climate change. Source: Breakfast

"Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet," Biden declared, speaking from a TV-style set for a virtual summit of 40 world leaders.

"It's about providing a better future for all of us," he said, calling it "a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity".

"The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction keeps mounting," he added.

Biden's own new commitment, timed to the summit, is to cut US fossil fuel emissions up to 52 per cent by 2030, marking a return by the US to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump.

Biden's administration is sketching out a vision of a prosperous, clean-energy United States where factories churn out cutting-edge batteries for export, line workers re-lay an efficient national electrical grid and crews cap abandoned oil and gas rigs and coal mines.

Japan announced its own new 46 per cent emissions reduction target today, and South Korea said it would stop public financing of new coal-fired power plants, as the US and its allies sought to build momentum via the summit.

The coronavirus pandemic compelled the summit to play out as a climate telethon-style livestream, limiting opportunities for spontaneous interaction and negotiation. The opening was rife with small technological glitches, including echoes, random beeps and off-screen voices.