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

By Zeke Miller, and Seung Min Kim | The Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON >> President Joe Biden left Washington on Thursday for a global climate meeting with a giant domestic investment in tow — and likely to face questions about how far the U.S. will go to pull other large greenhouse gas emitters along.

His attendance Friday at the U.N. climate conference, known as COP27, in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, is the first stop on an around-the-world trip 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.

President Joe Biden stops to talk with reporters as he prepares to leave the White House in Washington on Thursday, as he begins his foreign trip. SUSAN WALSH – THEASSOCIATED PRESS

Biden boarded Air Force One late Thursday evening buoyed by a stronger-than-expected showing by his party in Tuesday’s midterm elections, congressional passage this year of the largest climate investment in U.S. history and Russian military setbacks on the Ukrainian battlefield.

At the climate conference, Biden will spotlight one of his key domestic successes — the Democrats’ massive health care and climate change bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

The U.S. commitment of some $375 billion over a decade to fight climate change gives Biden greater leverage to press other nations to make good on their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition the global economy toward cleaner energy sources.

Biden will be in a far different position from last year’s gathering, which came about during a particularly unhappy stretch in the bill’s tortuous path to passage.

That summit resulted in additional global commitments to meet the temperature targets agreed to in the Paris Climate Accord, which Biden rejoined after his predecessor, Donald Trump, pulled the U.S. from the deal.

But even with the new U.S. law, America and the world have a long way to go to meet emissions targets that scientists hope will contain global warming. And the political will for more investment — as the global economy faces new headwinds — is shrinking.

Speaking at the COP27 summit Wednesday, former U.S. vice president and climate activist Al Gore called Biden a “climate hero in my book,” adding that “the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act represents the most significant pro-climate legislation ever passed by any nation in all of history.”

It remained to be seen whether Biden would address the item top of mind at the climate talks: loss and damage. That’s international negotiations language for asking rich countries like the United States, the top historic polluting nation, to pay what are essentially reparations for damages caused to poorer vulnerable nations that don’t emit much heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

In the past the United States has been against even talking about the issue, but it has now softened its stance, agreeing to the topic being discussed. Special Envoy John Kerry has even mentioned it in speeches. However, the U.S. doesn’t want liability to be part of any deal and when it comes to paying, Congress and the public have been reluctant to embrace many types of climate aid — and this is the most controversial type.

Global eagerness for shifting away from fossil fuels has been tempered by the roiling of world energy markets after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At home and abroad, Biden is pressing oil and gas producers to boost production to meet demand and bring down prices that have funded the Kremlin’s war effort.

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