Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
President Joe Biden Arrived on Friday for the ongoing climate summit In an Egyptian Red Sea resort, he is eager to highlight major new U.S. investments to curb climate change, a sharp contrast from the last time he was empty-handed at a climate conference.
Yet fears of a world riven by conflict and economic turmoil have combined with anger among poor countries over stalled progress in delivering climate reparations. Thinking about Biden’s short visit.
In a speech at the United Nations COP27 summit, Biden will announce that the United States is once again a world leader on climate change, following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes about $370 billion in clean energy incentives to reduce the use of harmful greenhouse gases. .
He will highlight a new proposed rule that would require large federal contractors to create carbon reduction targets and disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, boosting the federal government’s purchasing power to help the private sector fight climate change and improve vulnerable supply chains.
Meeting with Egypt’s military-backed leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Biden thanked the host of this year’s COP27 summit for reminding the world of the urgency of the climate crisis.
“This is an urgent crisis and we all need to do significantly more,” Biden said.
He said he would discuss a range of issues with Sisi, including the US-Egypt security partnership, a more integrated Middle East and — critically — human rights.
Biden will announce new rules from his administration aimed at further curbing the top pollutant greenhouse gas methane. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to further strengthen a previously announced regulation to reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. As proposed, the updated rule would reduce methane emissions from oil and gas by 87% below 2005 levels.
The newly updated rule requires oil and gas companies to respond to “credible third-party reports” of large methane leaks. The EPA rule still has to go through the public comment process before it is finalized.
Biden will also announce new partnerships with foreign countries on cutting methane and several new international climate initiatives. The US will double its multi-year pledge for adaptation funding to $100 million, and announce new climate partnerships with African and Pacific Island countries.
Many of the countries that sent delegates to this week’s conference in Egypt are focused on another issue: demanding climate compensation from rich and high-emitting countries like the United States to smaller, poorer countries that have felt the external effects of climate change.
It’s a proposal some European countries have floated, and which prompted Biden to back it. But political restraints in the US and elsewhere are unlikely to produce significant progress, at least in the near term.
Biden has already struggled to gain support in Congress for global climate resilience funding, which would help low-income countries prepare for the adverse effects of a warming planet, such as floods and other extreme events. If Republicans take control of one or both chambers, the prospects for any new climate legislation in the next two years will appear dim.
Speaking at Thursday’s climate conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed after the midterm races that Democrats must partner with Republicans to take action to fight climate change.
“Our colleagues are saying, ‘Why are we having this debate, there’s no climate crisis, it’s a hoax,'” he said, referring to the GOP’s reaction to investments to fight climate change included in the Inflation Reduction Act.
“We have to get over it,” she continued. “I trust their children will teach their parents that this is urgent, long overdue.”
Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry on Wednesday announced a new plan to raise money for climate action in developing countries by selling carbon credits to companies that want to offset their emissions. He said the project would help countries decarbonize their energy system. But the plan has already drawn criticism because of the way it’s financed — with money raised from the sale of carbon credits, allowing companies to pay someone else instead of reducing their planet-warming emissions.
But in an interview with CNN’s David McKenzie, he frankly said, “No country in the world has enough money to actually solve this problem,” about accelerating the energy transition and tackling the climate crisis.
The president is expected to be in Egypt for only about three hours. He is making stops on his way to other international summits in Asia.
He will be the first US president to visit Egypt since 2009, when President Barack Obama delivered a major address to the Muslim world from Cairo.
In the years that followed, the Arab Spring toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, followed by a period of instability and the rise to power of el-Sisi, whom Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump once referred to as his “favorite dictator.”
During his own presidency, Biden kept Sisi at arms length and limited some military assistance on human rights grounds. Ahead of their meeting, Biden said he “looks forward to our conversation” and praised Egypt for supporting Ukraine at the United Nations and for helping broker a ceasefire during last year’s cross-border conflict in Gaza.
Speaking ahead of Biden, El-Sisi also raised the issue of human rights, saying he had instituted a comprehensive approach. The US has previously accused Egypt of a poor human rights record.
Before his departure, Biden was urged by a group of human rights activists and House Democrats to raise with El-Sisi the jailing of British-Egyptian activist and writer Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is currently on hunger strike.
A senior administration official said the U.S. was “concerned” about the case and that “human rights will feature prominently” in the president’s conversations abroad.
Biden is the first US president to visit Egypt since President Barack Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo in 2009.