GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – President Joe Biden on Monday shifts the focus of his battle for swift concerted action against global warming from the US Congress to the rest of the world, calling on world leaders at the UN summit to commit to climate change. measures that Biden is still trying to consolidate at home.
Biden planned to take stock of a year of U.S. efforts to tackle climate change in a speech to other heads of government and announce climate initiatives, including billions of dollars in long-awaited legislation, to help poor communities overseas cope with climate damage that has already begun.
The Glasgow, Scotland summit is often seen as important in the implementation of the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
But the Biden administration also faces a number of obstacles to the president’s efforts to tackle climate change abroad, as well as at home. Ahead of the summit, the administration struggled to contain expectations that two-week talks involving more than 100 world leaders would lead to major breakthroughs in reducing climate-related emissions.
Instead of a quick fix: “Glasgow is the start of this decade’s race, if you will,” Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry told reporters Sunday.
As the summit opens, the United States is still struggling to convince some of the world’s largest climate pollutants – China, Russia, and India – to join the United States and its allies in a stronger commitment to burn far less coal, gas and oil and move to cleaner energy,
Kerry on Sunday defended the results of the G20 summit, which ended earlier in the day in Rome. The G-20 meeting was supposed to provide momentum for further progress on climate change in Glasgow, and leaders at the summit in Italy agreed on a number of measures, including a formal commitment to end international subsidies for fired coal-fired power plants. …
Biden also praised a separate US-European Union steel deal, announced Sunday, as a chance to restrict imports of dirty Chinese steel forged from coal-fired power. This is another step towards potentially using Western markets as leverage to persuade China, the world’s largest climate pollutant, to dampen its enthusiasm for coal-fired energy.
But the G-20 leaders have offered more vague promises than bold action commitments, saying they will push for carbon neutrality “by about mid-century.”
Major pollutants, including China and Russia, have already made it clear that they are not going to follow the US and its European and Asian allies anytime soon to nullify all fossil fuel pollution by 2050. Scientists say massive and rapid reductions in fossil fuel pollution are essential to achieve any hope of keeping global warming at or below the limits set by the Paris Climate Agreement.
The world is currently on track to warming, which will melt most of the planet’s ice, rise in sea levels and dramatically increase the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events, experts say.
Biden told reporters that he personally considers the results of the Rome summit “disappointing”, which contradicts the positive assessments of his aides. And he blamed two US rivals.
“The disappointment stems from the fact that Russia and … not only Russia, but also China have shown little or no commitment to fighting climate change,” Biden said.
In 10 months of diplomatic work leading up to the Glasgow summit, the Biden administration succeeded in helping secure significant new commitments from allies to tackle climate change. This includes convincing many foreign governments to set more ambitious emission reduction targets, advancing a global commitment to reduce climate-damaging methane emissions, and promising major economies to stop funding coal energy abroad.
European leaders are making it clear that they are delighted to see Biden and the United States again in the fight against climate change after his predecessor, Donald Trump, turned his back on the Paris Agreement and allies in general. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen smiled at Biden during the announcement of the steel deal on Sunday, calling him “dear Joe.”
Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping are attending the Glasgow summit, although they are sending high-ranking officials. Their refusals, as well as India’s refusal to significantly accelerate the reduction of its dependence on coal and oil, threaten to frustrate hopes of meeting the Paris climate agreement targets.
China under Xi Jinping has reaffirmed its commitment to cut emissions, but at a slower pace than the US encouraged.
Biden comes to the international climate summit, the fate of his own climate package is still unclear in Congress. Opposition from one of the opponents within his own Democratic Party forced Biden to abandon a bill that would push the United States away from coal and natural gas to cleaner energy for electricity generation.
However, hundreds of billions of dollars of climate action remain in Biden’s package ahead of Congress.
“The largest investment in the history of the world” in climate, Biden told reporters on Sunday. “This too shall pass”.
While the opening ceremony in Glasgow on Sunday officially kicked off the climate talks, the more anticipated launch will take place on Monday, when Biden and other leaders gather to lay out their countries’ efforts to cut emissions and tackle the growing damage from climate change.
Biden will also take part in a climate event on “Action and Solidarity” on Monday and will meet on the sidelines of the summit with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Miller reported from Rome.