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Biden tells leaders U.S. will meet climate goals, while his agenda falters at home

Published 11/01/2021, 01:13 AM
Updated 11/01/2021, 08:57 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference during the G20 leaders' summit in Rome, Italy October 31, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Jeff Mason and Valerie Volcovici

GLASGOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Monday sought to assure world leaders the United States would fulfill its promise to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade, but a setback at home heightened uncertainty about his ability to follow through.

Biden joined leaders from over 100 countries in Glasgow for the start of the COP26 climate conference, which kicked off on the heels of the G20 summit in Rome that concluded with a statement that urged "meaningful and effective" action on climate change but left huge work for negotiators to ensure an ambitious outcome.

Biden, who succeeded former president Donald Trump in January, pledged earlier this year that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. The White House has expressed confidence it can achieve that, even as a bill that would help further those goals languishes in Congress, with a key senator on Monday withholding his support, for now.

Biden wanted to show to the world that Washington could be trusted to fight global warming despite changes in policies between Republican and Democratic administrations that have undermined its pledges in the past.

"We'll demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of our example," he said. "I know it hasn’t been the case, and that's why my administration is working overtime to show that our climate commitment is action, not words."

Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord, dealing a blow to international efforts on the subject while he was in office. Biden rejoined when he became president.

"I guess I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact the United States, in the last administration, pulled out of the Paris accords," Biden said at a separate COP26 event.

As Biden was meeting with world leaders in Scotland, moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced he would not yet support a $1.75 trillion legislative framework that is central to achieving the president's emissions reduction goals.

National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy said ahead of Biden's arrival in Glasgow that the bill would unleash $555 billion in climate spending, the largest investment to combat global warming in U.S. history, and allow the country to reduce emissions well over a gigaton or a billion metric tons by 2030.

Biden announced a long-term strategy laying out how the United States would achieve a longer-term goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

In his COP26 speech, Biden said the world needed to help developing nations in the climate fight.

"Right now we're still falling short," he said.

Biden plans to work with the U.S. Congress to launch a $3 billion program in 2024 aimed at helping developing countries adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change through locally led measures.

© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 1, 2021. Evan Vucci/ Pool via REUTERS

In a conference call with reporters, McCarthy also addressed concerns around a Supreme Court announcement late on Friday that it would review the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, potentially undermining U.S. climate goals.

"We're confident that the Supreme Court will confirm what those have before them, which is EPA has not just the right but the authority and responsibility to keep our families and communities safe from pollution," McCarthy said.

Latest comments

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If Climate Change is such a problem, then why isn't the White House pushing China to change. China produces more pollution than the top 5 remaining countries, COMBINED.Clearly there is an interest in reducing America's #1 position in the world by having it implode with wasteful deficit spending. No doubt the DNC is being funded by outside interests that want to undermine the US.It's not a problem with Biden, it's a systemic problem with the DNC and corrupt media... follow the money to figure out who is really influencing the downfall...
Im a democrat and can side this is the most horrific presidency I have ever seen! Its really clear that this man is not capeable of doing this job? So sad
How does raising my taxes change the climate?
Why there is a sudden for climate saving and earth saving goals, till date so many chemical companies had ruptured earth like a hell, and this were the only people who allowed them to do it. Now why they want to save earth, climate. All this show is of no use, it is just a bubble which they create, a kind of hallucination, cheating people around.
Biden had caravan of 80 cars to see the Pope in Rome. Hypocrites pushing for climate change to force a tax on the middle class.
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