US President Joe Biden has issued a call for global action to combat the climate crisis, which he called a threat to the “very life of the planet”.
Speaking at the COP27 United Nations climate conference in Egypt on Friday, Biden announced new US initiatives and funding to help developing countries, including in Africa, adapt to environmental challenges.
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“The United States is acting; everyone has to act. It’s a duty and responsibility of global leadership. Countries that are in a position to help should be supporting developing countries, so they can make decisive climate decisions – facilitating their energy transitions, building the path to prosperity [that’s] compatible with our climate imperative,” Biden said.
“If countries can finance coal in developing countries, there is no reason why we can’t finance clean energy in developing countries.”
The US president outlined a series of steps that Washington is taking domestically and around the world to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. That includes funding for global climate initiatives and a push to curb planet-warming methane emissions.
On Friday, he also announced a $150m “down-payment” to support adaptation efforts throughout Africa.
Biden apologised for his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement and said Washington is on course to meet its obligations under the pact to reduce emissions by half by 2030 compared with 2005.
“From my first days in office, my administration has led with a bold agenda to address the climate crisis and increase energy security at home and around the world,” Biden said.
“We immediately rejoined the Paris Agreement. We convened major climate summits – I apologise we ever pulled out of the agreement.”
The US is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and it is the largest historically.
Developing countries have been pushing for a “loss and damage” fund to help pay for the harms already inflicted by climate change, which is largely caused by disproportionately-high emissions from rich and industrial countries.
At the COP27 conference, some European countries, as well as China, said they would be willing to contribute to such a fund.
But Washington has signalled that it would not back the effort, suggesting that international aid should go to adaptation, not compensation. US climate envoy John Kerry this week has only expressed openness to discussing the idea.
In September, Kerry said the best use of money is to prevent further damage and “mitigate” the situation, adding that he does not feel “guilty” over the crisis.
Egypt is hosting the global climate summit as scientists continue to sound the alarm about the dangers of the climate crisis, which may lead to irreversible disasters that threaten human life.
Droughts, wildfires, floods, heatwaves and devastating storms are becoming more frequent and killing thousands around the world.
Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world is “on a highway to climate hell“, saying that “humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish”.