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Biden insists US will meet climate targets at global summit
President Biden insisted Friday the U.S. will deliver on its climate change commitments, addressing an audience at an international climate summit in Egypt that is skeptical of whether the U.S. will actually live up to its promises.
“Today, finally, thanks to the actions we’ve taken, I can stand here as president of the United States of America and say with confidence: The United States of America will meet our emissions targets by 2030,” Biden said onstage at the COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.
Biden scored a major domestic win on climate change over the summer when he signed the Inflation Reduction Act, sweeping legislation that represents the biggest effort by a U.S. Congress to date to take action on the issue.
The legislation, which Democrats approved through a budget process that prevented a GOP filibuster in the Senate, will invest billions in clean energy and is intended to meet the U.S. goal of cutting its emissions in half by 2030, compared to a 2005 baseline.
No Republicans voted for the measure.
The U.S. has been the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gasses and modeling has shown this legislation does not, on its own, deliver the emissions reductions necessary to meet the 50 percent target, though Democrats have hailed it as a big step toward Biden’s climate goals.
Biden spoke at the summit as Democrats enjoy a better-than-expected midterm election year that could leave the Senate in Democratic control. Such an outcome, which still depends on uncalled Senate contests in Arizona and Nevada and a runoff in Georgia, would bolster Biden in the second half of his term.
During his speech, Biden also called out Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, citing the conflict as a reason to shift away from fossil fuels.
“Russia’s war only enhances the urgency of the need to transition the world off its dependence on fossil fuels. True energy security means every nation … benefiting from [a] clean, diversified energy future,” Biden said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has contributed significantly to volatile energy prices in the U.S. and around the world.
He also reiterated a previous apology for the U.S.’s withdrawal from the global Paris Agreement, and announced new U.S. commitments, including new proposed regulations on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
The Environmental Protection Agency has said that its proposed regulations on methane — a planet warming gas that is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide — will cut emission from the operations it has jurisdiction over by 87 percent.
Biden also touted other new commitments, including a joint $500 million effort with Germany and the European Union to bolster Egypt’s transition to renewable energy.
The president called on the global community to take action on climate and help developing countries.
“The United States is acting. Everyone has to act,” he said. “Countries that are in a position to help should be supporting developing countries so they can make decisive climate decisions.”
The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act gave Biden a significant climate accomplishment to tout during the summit. But the partisan divide around the climate issue has generated doubts about whether the U.S. can be trusted in the long term.
Questions remain in particular on climate financing, and whether the U.S. can deliver the funding it has promised to help developing countries transition to clean energy and adapt to climate change impacts.
Updated: 12:12 p.m.
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