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Climate crisis about ‘very life of planet’

US President Joe Biden says global warming poses an existential threat to the planet in an address to the COP27 summit in Egypt.

November 12, 2022
12 November 2022

US President Joe Biden has told the COP27 climate conference in Egypt that global warming poses an existential threat to the planet and promised the United States would meet its targets for fighting it.

His speech was intended to pump up global ambition to prevent the worst of climate change, even as a slew of other crises – from a land war in Europe to rampant inflation – distract international focus.

“The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security, and the very life of the planet,” Biden told a crowded room of delegates at the United Nations summit in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“I can stand here as president of the United States of America and say with confidence, the United States of America will meet our emissions targets by 2030,” he said, outlining steps being taken by the world’s second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter.

Prior to his arrival, Biden’s administration unveiled a domestic plan to crack down on the US oil and gas industry’s emissions of methane, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases.

The move defied months of lobbying by drillers.

The US and the European Union also issued a joint declaration alongside Japan, Canada, Norway, Singapore and the United Kingdom pledging more action on oil industry methane. 

That declaration was meant to build on an international deal launched last year and since signed by about 130 countries to cut economy-wide emissions 30 per cent this decade.

“Cutting methane by at least 30 per cent by 2030 can be our best chance keep within reach 1.5C,” Biden said, referring to the central goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise.

Biden said global crises, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, were not an excuse to lower climate ambition.

“Against this backdrop, it’s more urgent than ever that we double down on our climate commitments. Russia’s war only enhances the urgency of the need to transition the world off its dependence on fossil fuels,” he said.

During his speech, Biden also promised an increase in funding to help other countries embrace the energy transition and adapt and prepare for the impacts of a warmer world.

That issue has been a sore point at the talks; wealthy countries have so far failed to fully deliver $US100 million ($A149 million) promised annually for climate adaptation.

Last year’s transfer came to only about $US83 billion.

“He announced a slew of new climate programs, but he couldn’t deliver what the developing world most wants – enough money to adapt to climate extremes,” said Alice Hill of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group and a former US official under the administration of Barack Obama.

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