Biden leads a green wave at the turbulent climate summit

Other potential mood spoilers for Biden’s appearance include food and water shortages that left conference attendees curious, violations of human rights and privacy by the Egyptian government, and New scientific evidence All this climate diplomacy is failing to prevent catastrophic temperature rises.

Administration officials who attended the conference said Biden’s achievements in reversing years of climate paralysis in the United States remain worth celebrating — adding that the president also plans to urge other nations to redouble their efforts to cut greenhouse gas production.

Ali Zaidi, the White House’s national climate adviser, told Politico, “There were a lot of people, including you guys, looking at us and saying, ‘Can he implement the legislative initiatives that he put forth? He will talk about his values. He will talk about his optimism. He will talk about the fact that the crucial contract is about delivery. and the results achieved by Joe Biden.”

Even some longtime skeptics in the United States concede that Biden has led a change in a nation that for years has been a major obstacle to global climate progress.

“I have always seen it as a country that has undermined global rules on climate change and evaded responsibility,” said Sunita Narain, a prominent Indian environmental activist and critic of the United States. But she acknowledged that “what President Biden did last year was tremendous. He walked the talk.”

The United States is still not doing enough remotely to help low-income countries in their struggle to prevent and adapt to climate change, even some Biden allies have admitted. A proposal by White House climate envoy John Kerry to mobilize private climate finance for developing countries incorrectly failed with a number of delegates this week, including German officials.

Money will speak the loudest. With countries in need, US Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) He confessed during a call with reporters. “We have to be their partner, not just part of the problem.”

Biden’s claims to global climate leadership also depend on getting negotiations back on track with China, the world’s current largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. He will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday at the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where climate watchers hope the thaw will cool discussions between the two rivals in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Ascending to the summit podium on Friday, after other world leaders left Egypt, means Biden will not have to share the spotlight. Senior Biden Administration Officials The president said the president will cheer on his many victories, including this year’s climate bill, along with the Senate’s first ratification of the climate treaty in 30 years, and the passage of hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending to support the country in the face of climate change.

Future climate victories will come even more difficult if Republicans win even partial control of Congress, as seems likely. This is especially true for providing money to help developing countries switch away from fossil fuels and deal with the effects of climate change, the main pitfall in global climate discourse.

One of the questions that world leaders, diplomats and activists want Biden to answer is how he will deal with a divided government.

“What was a little [of a] Disappointment for some – to “A lot actually — in the climate change space was the inability of the US government to provide more funding,” said Patricia Espinosa, who until July was the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “It would be good if he could explain some of the difficulties his government is facing in order to play a more important role in this area.”

US officials toured Sharm el-Sheikh to make various announcements demonstrating the Biden administration’s commitment to climate change. Kerry has been at the heart of the American presence, making a more conciliatory note about the need for the United States to address the moral burden of past greenhouse gas emissions.

But Kerry also cautioned that partners must be realistic about what’s possible in the American political system, saying “you won’t see that money” for low-income countries if Republicans take back part of Congress.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi She used her private appearance at the summit on Thursday to express her hopes that a looming majority in the Republican Party would “take responsibility” for approving international climate assistance, despite the fierce opposition expressed by many conservative Republicans to US efforts to tackle global warming.

It’s the kind of dynamic that made people from some countries think that not much has changed.

Some also noted that the $370 billion in climate and green energy spending in Biden’s signature legislation is largely aimed at meeting domestic needs, along with including Protective Provisions “Made in America” that inspired the unhappiness of the European allies.

Iskandar Erzini Vernoet, a former climate negotiator for Morocco and director of the EMAL Climate and Development Initiative, a Rabat-based think tank, said. He added, “The United States is able To get paid for what you want, but in the context of climate, you don’t find the same resources available to developing countries.”

Republican lawmakers have typically rejected large sums of international climate spending, putting them at odds with Biden’s goal of raising $11.4 billion by 2024 — four times that. Levels of President Barack Obama Chapter II.

Kerry has tried instead to frame the US contribution to financing as using the influence of the world’s largest economy to direct its private sector toward investment in clean energy.

On Wednesday, Kerry rolled out a plan to bring more private clean energy investment to developing nations. People from developing countries have criticized the concept of relying on carbon credits, which critics claim allows companies to claim the benefits of clean energy projects that would have already occurred. Even some climate finance experts said Kerry’s proposal could cause confusion in the markets.

Critics of the US position have said there is no substitute for the public dollar that the US has consistently failed to send to developing countries, especially given the size of its economy and historically unparalleled carbon emissions.

“We can keep doing this tango and we can keep dancing around the real question here — or President Biden can address the massive trust deficit that exists between already rich countries and emerging countries,” Narin He said.

However, Kerry has repeatedly said that public spending alone cannot drive the trillions of dollars in investment needed to prevent temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-1850s levels – a level that scientists have described as critical to avoiding a catastrophic rise in Sea levels, storms and droughts. and other misfortunes. An assessment unveiled Thursday at the conference said the world was on track for a warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

The Climate Action Tracker report says that even a best-case scenario, where countries fully implement all of their ambitious carbon-reducing pledges, would bring about 1.8 degrees of warming.

“I would say everyone agrees with the starting premise that we need to do more,” said one Biden administration official, who asked not to be identified because the person is not authorized to speak with reporters.

Administration officials said the president views climate change from an ethical perspective, and that the United States is open to discussing compensation for countries vulnerable to climate change. Espinosa, a former UN climate official, called it a “big step forward” that the conference agenda includes discussion of loss and damage, as the concept is known among summit attendees. This success, she said, is partly due to the United States’ willingness to engage.

But the Biden administration has been caught trying to make it both ways: open For dialogue, but do not commit to any particular outcome.

“The problem for developed countries is that they don’t have a high ethical basis for standing up to it,” said Joe Thwaites, international advocate for climate finance at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Adding to the pressure on the United States is the fact that Some governments – Denmark and Scotland, for example – have pledged money for losses and damages. Even China has said it could support such funding, though he is vague about what that means.

“We are fully committed to constructive engagement on this issue and to understanding the depth of what climate-vulnerable countries face here,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a recent call outlining Biden’s trip. “Some of the reactions are that we are not yet at a point where there is something to agree on or disagree with. There are a lot of different ideas being put forward.”

Biden also needs to address the United States’ fractured relationship with China, including dissatisfaction with Beijing’s human rights and trade practices. Unlike Biden, Xi’s government has refused to isolate the climate talks from those broader tensions.

Xi cut off the climate dialogue with the United States in August after Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Kerry said he exchanged messages with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, in the hope of resuming talks.

Karl Matissen contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment