President Joe Biden on Monday pledged that the United States will hit its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, work with the European Union on an aggressive strategy to reduce methane emissions and do more to help developing nations fight climate change.
Biden was among the heads of state to speak at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland, known as COP26. Experts have said the gathering may be the last best chance to get the world on track to meet goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
Biden touted his Build Back Better initiative still being negotiated in Congress that he believes will commit the United States to take its most aggressive steps in fighting climate change.
“We’re planning for both a short-term spring to 2030 that will keep 1.5 degrees C in reach and a marathon that will take us to the finish line and transform the largest economy in the world into a thriving, innovative equitable and just clean energy engine for a net-zero world.”
Biden said the climate change industry will create new jobs in the United States, from building wind farms to installing electric car stations as the nation switches to electric vehicles.
Biden said he will release later Monday the United States’ long-term strategy to show how the country aims to achieve its goal of net-zero emission economy-wide by 2050. He said that his administration will announce new initiatives over the next several days.
The administration will also reach out around the globe to help others reach their climate change goals, he said.
“We’re going to do our part when it comes to helping the rest of the world take action as well,” Biden said. “We want to do more to help countries around the world, especially developing countries, accelerate their clean energy transition, address pollution and show the world we must all share a clean healthier, cleaner planet.”
He touted his administration’s effort to work with the European Union to lower methane emissions.
“Together with the European Union, we are launching a global methane pledge to collectively reduce methane emissions, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, by about 30% by the end of the decade,” Biden said. “More than 70 countries have already signed up to support the rapid reduction of methane pollution, and I encourage every nation to sign on.”
About 130 people are scheduled to attend the conference, which officially began on Sunday but begins in earnest Monday with the Leaders’ Event.
“It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his welcome speech. “We have to move from talk and debate and discussion to concerted, real-world action on coal, cars, cash and trees.
“Not more hopes and targets and aspirations, valuable though they are, but clear commitments and concrete timetables for change.”
Britain’s Prince Charles, speaking after Johnson, said the world needs to be on a “warlike footing” to address the climate crisis.
“The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems-level solution based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel-based economy to one that’s genuinely renewable and sustainable,” he said.
Biden, who rejoined the Paris Agreement immediately after he took office in January, left Rome for Scotland early Monday after meeting with Pope Francis and attending the G20 Leaders Summit over the weekend.
After his address, Biden was scheduled to participate in an event at the Scottish Event Campus, hold bilateral talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and attend a reception hosted by Johnson.
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Biden said Sunday night that he’s concerned about some of the nations that are not attending the conference, like China and Russia.
“The proof of the pudding will be eating,” Biden said. “We have made significant progress and more has to be done, but it’s going to require us to continue to focus on what China’s not doing, what Russia is not doing, what Saudi Arabia is not doing.”
Other speakers scheduled on Monday include French President Emmanuel Macron, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping is not attending the conference but has given a written statement that will be read during the event Monday.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II had originally planned to attend the summit, but said last week that she would not go to Scotland on the advice of her physician.
Many scientists and climate experts have said the U.N. conference might be the last best chance for world leaders to get on the same page and establish coordinated efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
A United Nations report last week said the world is “way off” track in reaching key targets set out in the Paris Agreement after a significant rise in carbon dioxide in 2020. A number of other recent reports have also raised alarm for the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
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