Energy & Environment

Top climate summit official on reconciliation bill: It's important to 'show progress'

Asked Friday whether it is important for Democrats' $3.5 trillion spending bill to cross the finish line ahead of a major climate summit this November, the conference's top official says the U.S. needs to show it has made progress on the issue. 

"Whether it's the U.S. or any other country, being able to show progress domestically is, of course ... going to be important in terms of them encouraging others to do the same," Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 United Nations climate change conference, told reporters. 

Sharma added that he believes there is "a real will and a real desire to get this thing done."

He also praised President Biden's recent announcement that the U.S. would seek to double its climate funding for developing countries. 

"I think it matters because he's delivering on a promise that was made back in 2009 to developing nations, and this $100 billion figure has become a matter of trust," Sharma said, referring to the amount that more developed countries had pledged.

"Trust at any time is pretty fragile, and I think this helps in terms of rebuilding that trust," he added. 

His comments come weeks before the conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where countries will negotiate climate action. 

The Biden administration has sought to be a world leader on climate. But the U.S. faces questions about its credibility, particularly in the wake of then-President Trump's decision to withdraw from the global Paris agreement, which Biden later rejoined. 

Sharma also said that the conference's success comes down to whether countries can "credibly" say they'll keep within reach the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. 

"I would like for us coming out of COP to be able to say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 alive," he said. 

"I think what that requires is for us to look for the NDCs [Nationally Determined Contributions] that have come forward, the long-term strategies, the net-zero commitments, any policies that are not in the NDCs and where there is a gap, how is it that, collectively over this next decade, that we are going to address that gap?" he added.

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