President Joe Biden on Friday again urged fellow major industrial nations to act to slow climate change or risk getting dangerously close to “a point of no return,” as pressure on the U.S. and others rises ahead of the highly anticipated November global climate-change conference in Glasgow.
“The time to act is really narrowing… to get too close to a point of no return, we don’t have a lot of time,” Biden said. “So we have to act, all of us. we have to act, and we have to act now.”
Biden was reconvening what he calls the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), an effort first launced last Earth Day.
John Kerry, Biden’s special envoy on climate, has previously said that the Glasgow meetings, known as COP26, are key for the world powers to act to help the developing world and ward off the sharpest effects of climate change.
Under the previous Paris deal, nations vowed to prevent the world’s average temperature rising 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid deadly and destructive heatwaves, flooding, storms, drought, coastal erosion and other consequences that are already populating headlines almost every week. But new analysis out this week by Climate Action Tracker, finds almost every country is falling short of emissions cuts and other actions that will help them reach the commitment.
China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, and India, which is the third largest polluter behind the U.S., were both absent from Friday’s attendees list.
China has set ambitious targets to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. But details on how it will get there have been scarce and data shows it has kept up coal production even while pushing electric vehicles and more. Republicans who believe Biden puts too much climate-change responsibility on the U.S. alone often point to China in their argument. China is expected to be a Glasgow participant.
As expected, Biden on Friday announced a pact between the U.S. and the European Union to cut emissions of planet-warming methane gas by roughly a third by the end of this decade compared to 2020.
The announcement was leaked earlier this week.
Methane rules could have a significant impact on the energy
agriculture and waste industries, which are responsible for the bulk of such emissions.
The agreement, the first ever to specifically target methane, is seen as a major preliminary step ahead of Glasgow. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is some 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) but remains in the atmosphere for a shorter period, about a decade.
The methan pledge “…will not only rapidly reduce the rate of global warming, but it will also produce a very valuable side benefit, like improving public health and agricultural output. We’re mobilizing support to help developing countries to join and pledge to do something significant,” Biden said.
He also emphasized the administration’s existing pledges focused on other parts of a “greener” economy.
“The United States is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 50% and 52% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. And, you know, we set a goal that by 2025, our power sector will be with free of carbon and in 2030, 50% of the cars sold in the United States we believe should be, must be electric vehicles,” Biden said.
The administration got some help from congressional Democrats this week, who pushed for greater tax incentives that most industry watchers believe is crucial to a faster swap of gas-engine cars to electric.
Victor Reklaitis contributed to this report.