President Biden told world leaders Monday that “we only have a short window before us to raise our ambitions” to fight climate change, warning that climate disasters were already imposing trillions of dollars in economic costs, but offering hope of that a shift to lower emissions energy sources could create millions of jobs worldwide.
“Glasgow must be the start of a decade of innovation and ambition to preserve our shared world,” Biden said in a speech that lasted just over 11 minutes, near the beginning of a session with other leaders at the UN summit on the climate change. , known as COP26.
Heavily weakened by domestic politics, Biden arrived in Glasgow with a weaker hand than he expected. Opposition in Congress has forced him to abandon the most powerful mechanism on his climate agenda: a program that would have quickly cleaned up the power sector by rewarding power companies that migrated from fossil fuels and penalizing those that did not.
His alternative strategy is a bill that would provide $ 555 billion in clean energy tax credits and incentives. It would be the largest amount ever spent by the United States to tackle global warming, but it would cut only half of pollution.
The president touted potential emissions reductions in the bill, but even that scaled-down measure has uncertain prospects of passing in Congress and on Biden’s desk. Wait to pair it with new environmental regulations, although they have not yet been completed and a future president could undo them.
In a smaller session with world leaders after his speech at the full conference, Biden touched on his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate accord, a policy he reversed upon taking office. .
“I suppose I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize for the fact that the United States, in the last administration, withdrew from the Paris Accords and put us a little behind the eight ball,” he said.
Biden did not set more ambitious short-term targets or commitments to reduce U.S. emissions, beyond those he detailed at a climate meeting in April, though he said he would publish a long-term plan on Monday to push the United States into emissions. net zero by 2050.
Nor did he call China: like your national security adviser did earlier in the day – due to insufficient action to reduce emissions. Instead, he called for global cooperation in his speech.
“We are still falling short,” he said. “There is no more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue with each other. This is a challenge in our collective life. “
Biden said that in the coming days, his administration will detail new efforts to reduce emissions through the forestry and agriculture and oil and gas industries. And he promised additional U.S. support to developing nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“God bless you all,” Biden said, modifying his traditional closing remarks slightly, “and God save the planet.”