At COP27, Biden says US will ‘paradigm shift’ on climate change
“The United States is taking action,” Biden said. “Everyone must act.”
President framed the $369 billion in clean energy spending this year Inflation Reduction Act as an initiative that can help other countries, although it was primarily intended to stimulate the US economy as it transitions to cleaner energy.
“Our investments in technology, from electric batteries to hydrogen, will spark a cycle of innovation that will reduce the cost and improve the performance of clean energy technology that will be available to nations around the world, not just United States,” Biden said, drawing applause. “We will help make the transition to a low-carbon future more affordable for everyone.”
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Biden’s reception in Sharm el-Sheikh was far different from his triumphant visit to Scotland last year for COP26, where world leaders praised him for reversing Trump-era policies and engaging the United States. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
COP27 was much more acrimonious and absent from several of the world leaders who met a year ago, including India’s Narendra Modi. At the same time, the war in Ukraine, tensions around Taiwan and trade protectionism have strained diplomatic talks between many world leaders, and energy instability has spurred new momentum in natural gas projects around the world. .
In his speech, Biden cast a glance at China, without naming it, for its history of funding coal projects overseas.
“If countries can fund coal in developing countries, there’s no reason why we can’t fund clean energy in developing countries,” he said.
New studies published on Friday illustrate the urgency of the challenge. According to a study, nations are likely to exhaust their remaining carbon budget in less than a decade if they do not significantly reduce greenhouse gas pollution. And another shows that the slew of new gas projects would eat up 10% of that remaining carbon budget, making it virtually impossible for nations to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius below. above pre-industrial levels.
At this year’s event, in Africa, developing countries were more aggressive in demanding financial compensation for climate damage caused by industrialized countries, and they were deeply skeptical of funding deals and claims of progress by Biden and other US officials in the early days of the conference.
A battle cry erupted from the audience near the end of Biden’s speech. Four protesters held a banner reading ‘People Against Fossil Fuels’. Activists and some delegates have expressed frustration that the president has not taken more responsibility for the history of US broadcasts and that his signature legislation has provided no international help.
“It’s important for the world to address the climate disasters that hit us hardest,” said Henry Kokofu, Ghana’s special envoy for climate and chief negotiator for a group of nations called the Climate Vulnerable Forum. “Another empty bank account will not suffice as a result of the COP.”
Biden said he would continue to fight to get Congress to approve the $11 billion he pledged to the international community. He and other Democrats also highlighted the potential emissions reductions of their climate and fiscal package and said they would continue to push for more, despite gains made by Republicans in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
After arriving in Egypt, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a delegation of congressional Democrats repeatedly touted the new spending law, which Pelosi (D-California) called “so historic” and will not fail not to spread hope beyond American borders. Congressional Republicans in their own delegation said the world must look beyond wind and solar power and be prepared to invest in nuclear and natural gas.
Biden touted several recent steps he has taken on his own to reduce emissions. They included new administration proposals, announced in the hours before his speech, for oil and gas operations to better monitor and repair leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and requirements for all major federal contractors to set emission reduction targets in accordance with the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The main offer from the US delegation so far in Egypt is a new proposal from major philanthropic organizations and corporations that would channel private funds to developing countries for clean energy projects. The group hopes to attract more than $100 billion by the end of the decade, but its plan, which relies on the voluntary participation of private companies, has been met with skepticism.
Instead, momentum is building behind calls for wealthy nations to raise money by taxing corporations. Munir Akram, the chief climate negotiator for the largest bloc of developing nations, told the Washington Post he “wholeheartedly” supports the idea of taxing fossil fuel companies to pay for “loss and damage”. – the irreversible damage of climate change that is already bombarding the developing world.
Several small island states have already floated the idea, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on countries to tax the windfall profits of oil and gas companies to provide money for developing countries to make in the face of sea level rise, droughts and other climatic impacts. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told world leaders earlier this week that fossil fuel companies should not be able to profit “at the expense of civilization”.
Biden and other US leaders have not addressed these demands head-on. Asked about the loss and damage at a press conference in Egypt on Friday, White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi evaded the question, saying only that Biden was committed to “partnership and solidarity “.
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Biden began his speech by acknowledging the drought and extreme heat across Africa, and the damage done to fishing and farming communities.
“The United States is addressing the climate crisis with urgency and determination to ensure a cleaner, safer, and healthier planet for all of us,” he said.
Biden’s stop here in the Sinai Peninsula resort was meant to trumpet how important climate change is to his administration. He hadn’t planned to attend, but after a long internal debate, he’s shifted his schedule to a busy trip to Asia, which will also include stops in Cambodia and Indonesia.
Before his speech, Biden met with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, who is hosting the conference and has been criticized for his dismal human rights record.
Political and media freedoms were curtailed under Sisi, and coercion and aggressive surveillance of protesters was a common scenario in the opening days of the conference.
Biden said the United States would work with European allies to give more than $250 million directly to Egypt to help fund its clean energy transition.
Biden’s efforts to secure more U.S. funding for other countries will face an even greater challenge if Republicans take control of the House or Senate. As Biden left COP27 – after staying less than three hours – reporters asked how he would persuade Republicans to fund climate initiatives. “Reality,” Biden replied.
Congressional Republicans at the top denounced “radical environmentalism” and said demonizing fossil fuels is not a productive way to fight climate change. Rep. Garret Graves (La.), the top Republican on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, said rapidly growing energy consumption means policymakers should recognize that demand for oil and gas will remain .
“We need to make sure that production activities take place in the places where we have the lowest emissions per unit of energy, which is largely in the United States in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. he declares.
Biden and his fellow Democrats have worked to convince the world that the United States is committed to leading the fight against climate change for the long term.
“I just want our global partners to know that Democrats are prepared to fight any Republican attempt to undermine” the gains the country has made, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (DN.J.) said on stage with Pelosi.
The United States has long resisted financial commitments at the UN climate talks, fearing legal liability for the trillions of dollars in damages.
“America has no sympathy, no empathy,” Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy for Climate Action Network International, told the crowd. “People are dying, and they don’t even want a system here to help them.”
Puko brought back from Washington.