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U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

Staring down a "borderless climate crisis," President Biden told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the U.S. will double public financial assistance to developing countries, including money to help them adapt to present-day climate impacts.

Why it matters: The failure of industrialized nations to fulfill a 2009 pledge to devote $100 billion annually to developing countries is a major impediment to a successful UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, which starts next month.

By the numbers: A report released this week by the OECD found a $20 billion gap between climate finance pledges and the $100 billion figure.

  • The U.S. had already pledged to provide $5.7 billion in public financial aid by 2024, and Biden said doubling that will make the country the global leader in providing public finance.

Yes, but: Public finance likely requires approval from Congress, which may pare back the proposed figure.

State of play: On Monday, about two-dozen leaders met behind closed doors at the UN for a frank exchange of views on the distrust between developed and developing nations heading into the Glasgow climate summit, known as COP26.

  • A member of a climate negotiating team who observed the meeting told Axios the session featured stark, uncharacteristic language for a meeting of heads of state, and made it clear how significant the divides are heading into Glasgow.

The bottom line: The upcoming summit is viewed by leaders as the world's last, best chance to ensure the Paris Agreement's temperature targets remain feasible. A key question is whether the new U.S. financial pledge will encourage other industrialized nations to step forward with their own added figures.

Go deeper

Obama to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park in Chicago on Sept. 28. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP

Former President Barack Obama will travel to Glasgow next month for the UN climate summit, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Obama will meet with young climate change advocates and "urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society," according to an Obama spokesperson, per CNN.

The High Ambition Coalition's priorities for the Glasgow climate summit

Then-French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius, right, greets then-Marshall Islands' Foreign Affairs minister Tony de Brum in his office during the Paris climate summit in December 2015. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

A coalition to watch at the upcoming Glasgow climate summit is made up of some of the most at-risk countries to climate change that don't traditionally wield much power on the global stage, along with some other nations, like Norway, which have ambitious climate targets.

Why it matters: The power of these countries' moral authority on climate change — their very existence is threatened by sea level rise — helped them play a vital role in securing the Paris Agreement in 2015.

What the initial UN Climate Summit attendance list reveals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The UN Climate Summit set to begin Oct. 31 in Glasgow will bring an unprecedented combination of leaders for such an event (even Pope Francis!), and the likely absence of vital players — notably Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Why it matters: The speeches and backroom meetings at COP26 between leaders on the summit's first two days will set the tone for the rest of the gathering. These will be moments when countries showcase any new pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement's targets.