FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech in Riga, Latvia, August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden announced plans to increase U.S. funding to help developing countries fight climate change and curb deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) rainforest during a meeting on Thursday with leaders from the world’s largest economies.
During a virtual meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, Biden urged his counterparts to be ambitious in setting goals to reduce emissions and meet a target of limiting overall global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We’re at a moment of great peril but also great possibilities, serious possibilities. With the right commitment and follow-through from every nation … on this call, the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees can stay within reach,” Biden said.
The countries that take part in the forum account for about 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and global gross domestic product, according to the White House. Thursday’s meeting was the group’s fourth under Biden’s presidency.
Biden announce a U.S. contribution of $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which finances projects on clean energy and climate change resilience in developing countries, doubling the overall U.S. contribution.
“The impacts of climate change will be felt the most by those who have contributed the least to the problem, including developing nations,” Biden said. “As large economies and large emitters, we must step up and support these economies.”
Biden also announced plans to request $500 million over five years to contribute to the Amazon Fund, which works to combat deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, and related activities. A senior administration official said Biden’s team would have to work with Congress to secure that funding.
“Together, we have to make it clear that forests are more valuable conserved than cleared,” Biden said.
His announcement comes during a week of tension between the United States and Brazil after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for Western powers to stop supplying arms to Ukraine and said the United States was encouraging the fighting between Ukraine and Russia. He later toned down his comments and condemned Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Biden, who has made fighting climate change one of his top policy priorities, has set a goal of reducing U.S. emissions 50%-52% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.
This month, his Environmental Protection Agency proposed sweeping emission cuts for new cars and trucks through 2032 in an effort to boost electric vehicles. Biden encouraged leaders from the group to join a collective effort to spur zero-emission vehicles and to reduce emissions from the shipping and power industries.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new European Union-led initiative to develop new global targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy alongside the International Energy Agency, in time for a global summit on climate change in November.
“These targets would complement other goals, such as the phaseout of unabated fossil fuels and the ambitious goals for zero emission vehicles and ships,” she said at the meeting.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on rich countries to reach net zero emissions by 2040, a decade before the goal set in the Paris climate agreement, and developing countries to hit that milestone by 2050. He also called for OECD countries to phase out coal by 2030 and 2040 in all other countries and end all licensing or funding – both public and private – of new fossil fuel projects.
Developing countries have resisted setting specific timelines for these reductions.
Countries and entities that make up the Major Economies Forum include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.