Nov 11, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden says U.S. "on track" to meet Paris commitment

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference on November 11, 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

President Biden told a critical UN climate summit Friday that the U.S. is "on track" to meet its 2030 emissions-cutting pledge under the Paris Agreement while also touting efforts to help vulnerable nations harmed by global warming.

Driving the news: "Thanks to the actions we've taken, 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," Biden told the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

  • The U.S. has pledged to cut emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Biden cited the new climate law, energy and climate provisions in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, and executive policies like stronger draft rules unveiled this morning to cut emissions of methane from the oil-and-gas sector.

Why it matters: The U.S. is the world's largest historical carbon emitter and is currently second behind China.

In addition, emissions-cutting pledges under the Paris Agreement are nonbinding, so showing the U.S. pledge is backed up by tangible domestic policies could help prod other nations to do more.

The big picture: A dominant theme at this year's summit is calls for rich industrial polluters to boost aid to help developing nations cut emissions, adapt to climate change, and compensate them for unavoidable climate harms.

Biden's speech touted various new financial assistance efforts, such as an additional $150 million for Africa under the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, or PREPARE.

However, the strong chances that Republicans will control at least one chamber of Congress create new barriers to meeting the White House's 2021 pledge to quadruple U.S. foreign climate aid to $11 billion annually by 2024.

The intrigue: Biden repeatedly cited vulnerable nations' jeopardy, such as drought-fueled hunger in Africa.

"The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security, and the very life of the planet," he said.

However, he did not spell out a specific U.S. commitment or posture on compensation known as "loss and damage."

What they're saying: "Developing country negotiators are...eager to get more reassurance that the United States will throw its weight behind creating a collective funding stream to help them recover from devastating losses from climate disasters," Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute, said in a statement.

"If the United States continues to resist real progress on financing for loss and damage it could put the entire proceedings of this climate summit in jeopardy," Dasgupta said.

Quick take: The White House entered this year's summit in a stronger position than last year, thanks to the big new climate law passed over the summer.

Biden's speech looked to seize on the law to demonstrate U.S. commitment to tackling global warming, but with a twist — he argued the efforts would also help other nations.

  • "Our investments in technology from electric batteries to hydrogen are going to spark a cycle of innovation that will reduce the cost and improve the performance of clean energy technology that will be available to nations worldwide, not just the United States," he said.
  • "We're going to help make the transition to low carbon future more affordable for everyone, accelerate decarbonization beyond our borders," Biden added.

Threat level: The summit and White House efforts come amid fresh evidence that global efforts to curb carbon emissions are badly out of step with steep cuts envisioned under the Paris Agreement goals.

The Global Carbon Project, a respected research consortium, reported Friday that global carbon emissions from fossil fuels are rising by an estimated 1% this year.

"Many countries, cities, companies, and individuals have made pledges to reduce emissions, and it is a stark reminder that despite all this rhetoric, global fossil CO2 emissions are more than 5% higher than in 2015, the year of the Paris Agreement," said Glen Peters of Norway's CICERO Center for International Climate Research, which is part of the group.

Go deeper