Biden off to climate talks, 1st leg of round-the-world trip

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden left Washington on Thursday for a global climate meeting with a giant domestic investment in tow — and will likely face questions about how far the United States will go to drag other big greenhouse gas emitters.

His participation Friday in the United Nations climate conference, known as COP27, in the seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, is the first leg of a journey around the world that will also take him to a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders in Cambodia and a Group of 20 summit meeting for leaders of the world’s largest economies in Bali, Indonesia.

Biden boarded Air Force One late Thursday night, buoyed by a stronger-than-expected showing from his party in Tuesday’s midterm elections, Congress’s passage this year of the largest climate investment in the world. History of the United States and Russian Military Reverses on the Ukrainian Battlefield.

At the climate conference, Biden will discuss an additional new rule coming Friday that clamps down on methane emissions, a move that expands on a similar regulation his administration released last year.

The 2021 rule targeted emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming – from existing oil and gas wells nationwide, rather than just focusing on new wells as have previous Environmental Protection Agency regulations. But this year’s rule goes further and targets all drilling sites, including small wells that emit less than 3 tons (2.7 metric tons) of methane per year.

It will also highlight one of its major national successes – the Democrats’ massive health care and climate change bill known as the Cut Inflation Act.

The U.S. commitment of some $375 billion over a decade to fight climate change gives Biden greater leverage to urge other countries to deliver on pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions and change climate. world economy towards cleaner energy sources.

Biden will be in a far different position than last year’s rally, which occurred during a particularly unfortunate time in the bill’s torturous path to passage.

While Republicans may be closing in on a narrow majority in the House, the Senate is too close to call. (CNN, POOL, JOHN HARRINGTON)

That summit resulted in additional global commitments to meet the temperature goals agreed to in the Paris Climate Accord, which Biden joined after his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the accord.

In his remarks, Biden will also argue that “good climate policy is good economic policy,” while calling on all major emitting countries to “align their ambition” with the international goal of trying to limit future global warming. at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the White House.

But even with these new efforts, America and the world still have a long way to go to meet the emissions targets that scientists hope will contain global warming. And the political will for more investment – ​​as the global economy faces new headwinds – is waning.

Speaking at the COP27 summit on Wednesday, former US Vice President and climate activist Al Gore called Biden “the climate hero in my book”, adding that “passing the of inflation represents the most significant pro-climate legislation ever passed by any nation.” throughout history.

It remained to be seen whether Biden would address the priority point at the climate talks: loss and damage. It is the language of international negotiations to ask rich countries like the United States, the first historical polluting country, to pay what is essentially reparations for the damage caused to poor and vulnerable countries which do not emit much dioxide. heat-trapping carbon.

In the past, the US was against even talking about the issue, but has now softened its stance, accepting the topic under discussion. Special Envoy John Kerry has even mentioned it in speeches. However, the United States doesn’t want accountability to be part of a deal, and when it comes to paying, Congress and the public have been reluctant to pass many kinds of climate aid — and that’s it. is the most controversial type.

“I would like the United States to say something constructive about the loss and damage,” because that could advance a vital issue, said Michael Oppenheimer, professor of climate and global affairs at the University of Princeton.

The global rush to move away from fossil fuels has been tempered by the turmoil in global energy markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At home and abroad, Biden is urging oil and gas producers to increase production to meet demand and drive down prices that have funded the Kremlin’s war effort.

Prospects for a significant breakthrough are further dimmed as major emitters such as China and India send in less experienced delegations. Biden administration officials tried to lower outcome expectations at the meeting and instead framed it as a return to U.S. leadership on the issue.

Biden leaves Washington as votes are still tallied in key races that will determine control of both houses of Congress. Still, the president felt the wind at his back as Democrats performed better than expected. He was likely to learn race results that will have a huge impact on his ability to get things done in Washington while he was away.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump appeared poised to announce another bid for the White House while Biden was in Asia, a contrast that the incumbent’s advisers said would only benefit Biden.

While in Egypt, Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, where they are to discuss the two nations’ strategic partnership, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regional security issues.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told The Associated Press on Thursday that he understood Biden’s visit to Sharm el-Sheikh as “an indication of the political will to move the process forward” to combat global warming. climatic.

“We hope this resonates with the collective will of the negotiating groups to which the United States is a party, but also with building momentum for the conference, for the parties to deliver what is expected,” he said. he declares.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden would also address human rights when he meets with el-Sissi, whose government has taken an authoritarian turn, and with other leaders during the travel.

“He thinks you’re not the American president — you’re not really doing your job as the American president — if you’re not raising human rights issues,” Sullivan said. “You can expect him to raise human rights issues at this meeting, as he will with other leaders he meets at the G-20.”

Sullivan said Biden and other top officials would also advocate for the release of jailed Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, whose family said they were told by prison officials he was undergoing indefinite medical intervention. amid a hunger strike that escalated on Sunday.

After his brief stopover in Egypt, Biden will travel to Cambodia for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit to bolster U.S. engagement in the region in the face of China’s growing assertiveness.

And then, in Indonesia, Biden is set to hold his first meeting as president with a newly empowered Chinese President Xi Jinping, who won a third five-year term as leader of the Communist Party of China at the last congress. national of the party. month. in a context of increasingly tense US-China relations.

The White House has been working with Chinese officials over the past few weeks to organize the meeting. Biden told reporters on Wednesday he intended to discuss with Xi the growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over the self-governing island of Taiwan, trade policies, Beijing’s relationship with Russia and more.

“What I want to do with him when we speak is to lay out each of our red lines and understand what he thinks is in the critical national interest of China, what I know is the critical interest of the states. United,” Biden said. “And determine whether or not they are in conflict with each other.”

Biden will also aim to demonstrate global resolve to stand up to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and meet two key new partners in the effort to support Ukraine’s defense: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that he was skipping rallies, avoiding a potentially awkward encounter. Sullivan said Biden has no plans to interact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is attending in place of Putin.

In Cambodia, Biden will also discuss North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a trilateral meeting with the leaders of South Korea and Japan.


Kim reported from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. AP writers Seth Borenstein in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and Chris Megerian and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed.

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