Erica Barks-Ruggles: US will be focusing on urging the international community to combat climate change

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: The senior bureau official in Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Erica Barks-Ruggles has said that Secretary Blinken will travel on Monday to attend the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

She added that tomorrow, the Secretary will attend President Biden’s address to the General Assembly.  He’ll also participate in several bilateral and multilateral meetings.  Secretary Blinken is expected to participate in the virtual COVID-19 summit that will be hosted by the White House on Wednesday.  Also, on Wednesday, he will attend a G20 meeting on Afghanistan, and he is scheduled to meet with his P5 counterparts.  Finally, I’d like to highlight the Secretary’s participation in the UN Security Council event on climate and security, scheduled for Thursday.  He plans to return to Washington on Thursday evening.

As you know, High-Level Week will look very different this year given the ongoing pandemic.  The safety of the UNGA participants, U.S. personnel, and the City of New York are our top priority.  Our delegation will be small, and we have worked closely with the UN, the CDC, and New York City to put strong COVID mitigation practices in place.

As defeating COVID-19 is the highest priority for the United States, it is also a top priority of ours during the UN General Assembly.  The United States is the largest bilateral donor of global health assistance and is well positioned to lead the conversation on COVID-19 response globally.  We are building a global coalition to accelerate vaccine production and expand access to lifesaving treatments around the world.  We look forward to working with our international partners to end this pandemic and advance global health security for the future.

Also, at UNGA, we will be focusing on urging the international community to make ambitious commitments to combat climate change.  The United States is leading by example.  We are committed to significantly reducing emissions and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, as has been previously announced.  We will be strongly encouraging other countries to commit to keeping the goal – keeping to the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  The U.S. is strengthening its efforts under the Paris Agreement, and demonstrating that climate action equals new jobs, opportunities, and economic growth.

Finally, the U.S. will also be focusing on using its platform at the UN General Assembly to voice support for human rights, democratic values, and the rules-based international system.  We will be stressing our commitment to building a more perfect union at home as we dismantle systemic racism, combat the rise of domestic terrorism, fight inequality, and promote values-based immigration reform.  Defending these values at home and around the world is essential to our national strength, and advancing our interests globally.  .

While answering to a question, she said that US are already the leading supplier of both vaccines, and the leading contributor to COVAX.  And we’re fully committed to increasing our ambition as we go forward.  What we’re trying to do is also make sure, though, that we are looking at the equity piece, because we do understand that this has not been spread around equally.  The Delta variant has been ravaging countries across the world, but even more so in places where people are less vaccinated.  And so, what we’ve got to do is make sure that all of us are keeping our pledges.  The U.S. has already shipped more than 140 million doses to date.  We’ve committed to more – sending another 560 million on top of that, and sharing with – through COVAX, without strings attached, to make sure that these doses are going where they’re most desperately needed.

We are pushing others to do the same – to increase the number of doses they’re sharing, to increase their support for COVAX to make sure that we can get shots into arms quickly.  So that’s part of the whole point of doing this is to make sure that we get after that.  As the President has said, and as the Secretary, has said, these variants are going to continue if we don’t get on this, and so none of us are safe, really, until all of us are vaccinated.