It is the duty and responsibility of every nation to act on climate, US President Joe Biden has said at the UN summit COP27. Mr Biden spoke in Egypt after US mid-term elections delivered better-than-expected results for the president. He claimed the US is a global leader on climate after it passed sweeping laws to tackle global warming.
About 35,000 people are in Sharm el-Sheikh for the two-week meeting. “The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security and the very life of the planet,” said Mr Biden.
He echoed UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s comments the other day that Russia’s war in Ukraine is a reason to act faster on climate.
Noting that the past eight years have been the warmest on record, he described the impacts of climate change on Africa nations, including a four-year drought in the Horn of Africa. Mr Biden promised to tighten US rules on methane emissions from oil and gas companies. Methane is the most potent greenhouse gas and significantly contributes to the warming of Earth’s atmosphere.
“Today, thanks to the actions we have taken, I can stand here as president of the United States of America and say with confidence the US will meet our emissions targets by 2030,” he said. He also pledged more money for poorer nations suffering from climate disasters, including drought and flooding. But the sums remain far short of what the US, along with other developed nations, have promised. “Joe Biden comes to COP27 and makes new promises but his old promises have not even been fulfilled. I’d rather have one apple in my hand than the promise of five that never come,” said Mohamed Adow, Power Shift Africa director. “The inconvenient truth is that the United States is grossly underperforming on its international climate finance commitments,” said president of World Resources Institute Ani Dasgupta.
In August the US passed legislation to tackle climate change that experts have called “radical” and “historic”. The Inflation Reduction Act could reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
Mr Biden’s Democrat party feared that it would lose crucial seats in the mid-term elections on Tuesday, which could have weakened their climate agenda. But it performed better than expected. “While control of Congress is still being determined, one thing is certain: the massive climate-friendly investments in the Inflation Reduction Act are here to stay,” says Dan Lashof, director of World Resources Institute United States. Mr Biden also held talks with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi amid heightened concern over the fate of jailed British-Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah. There’s been no independent confirmation about Mr Abdel Fattah’s condition since he is said to have received ”medical intervention” on Thursday, days after he began refusing water as part of a long hunger strike. It is the sixth day of the COP summit, which is focussed on implementing ambitious promises made at COP26 in Glasgow last year.
Vulnerable nations have called on richer countries to pay for the irreversible damage climate change wrecks on their homes. “We will not give up… the alternative consigns us to a watery grave,” Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said on Tuesday, urging nations to “get real”. They say developed nations owe this money because they became rich off decades of using fossil fuels. By contrast many less developed countries, particularly the small island nations most at risk, have contributed virtually nothing to total emissions. Richer nations have historically avoided the question of compensation or reparations, but the issue – referred to as “loss and damage” – was put on the COP agenda this year for the first time since the summits began 30 years ago.