Biden invites Putin, Xi to a virtual climate summit

Biden invites Putin, Xi to a virtual climate summit

Sourced from the web by Tracy Cabrera

WASHINGTON DC, USA — United States President Joe Biden has invited his rivals Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China as part of the list of invitees to the first big climate conference—an event the US hopes will help shape, speed up and deepen global efforts to cut the use of fossil fuel and help lessen global pollution caused by greenhouse gases.
Biden is actually seeking to revive a US-convened forum of the world’s major economies on climate that George W. Bush and Barack Obama both used and Donald Trump let languish.

The virtual climate summit to be held in April is expected to be attended by some 40 world leaders who have been asked to attend the two-day meeting meant to mark Washington’s return to the front lines of the fight against man-made climate change.

“They know they’re invited,” Biden said of Xi and Putin. “But I haven’t spoken to either one of them yet.”

Washington disclosed that the summit, to be held from April 22 to 23, will fulfill a campaign pledge and an executive order by Biden and the administration is timing the event to coincide with its own upcoming announcement of what will be a much tougher U.S. target for revamping the U.S. economy to sharply cut emissions from coal, natural gas, and oil.

The session will test Biden’s pledge to make climate change a priority among competing political, economic, policy, and pandemic problems. It also will pose a very public—and potentially embarrassing or empowering—test of whether U.S. leaders and Biden in particular, can still drive global decision-making after the Trump administration withdrew globally and shook up longstanding alliances.

The Biden administration intentionally looked beyond its international partners for the summit, reaching out to key leaders for what it said would sometimes be tough talks on climate matters, an administration official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. plans for the event.

Trump mocked the science underlying urgent warnings on global warming and the resulting worsening of droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. He pulled the United States out of the 2015 U.N. Paris climate accords as one of his first actions. That makes next month’s summit the first major international climate discussions by a U.S. leader in more than four years, although leaders in Europe and elsewhere have kept up talks.

U.S. officials and some others give the Obama administration’s major-economies climate discussions some of the credit for laying the groundwork for the Paris accord. The United States and nearly 200 other governments at those talks each set targets for cutting their fossil-fuel emissions, and pledged to monitor and report their emissions. Another Biden administration official said the U.S. is still deciding how far the administration will go in setting a more ambitious U.S. emissions target.

Like Bush’s and Obama’s major-economies climate forums, Biden’s invite list includes leaders of the world’s biggest economies and European blocs. That includes two countries—Russia and China—that Biden and his diplomats are clashing against over election interference, cyber-attacks, human rights, and other issues. It’s not clear how those two countries, in particular, will respond to the U.S. invitations, or whether they are willing to cooperate with the U.S. on cutting emissions while sparring on other topics. China is the world’s top emitter of climate-damaging pollution. The U.S. is No. 2. Russia is No. 4.

Climate scientists and climate policy experts largely welcomed Biden’s international overture on climate negotiations, especially the outreach to China.

“China is by far the world’s largest emitter. Russia needs to do more to reduce its emissions. Not including these countries because they aren’t doing enough would be like launching an anti-smoking campaign but not directing it at smokers,” said Nigel Purvis, who worked on climate diplomacy in past Democratic and Republican administrations.

Ideally, government leaders of China and other major economies will be looking for opportunities to talk over specific matters, such as whether the broad agreement is possible on setting any price on carbon emissions, said Bob Inglis, a former Republican lawmaker who works to involve conservatives and conservative approaches in climate efforts. “That’s why this kind of outreach makes sense.”

Brazil is on the list as a major economy, but it’s also a major climate backslider under President Jair Bolsonaro, who derailed preservation efforts for the carbon-sucking Amazon and joined Trump in trampling international climate commitments.

Biden as a candidate pledged $2 trillion in investment to help transform the US into a zero-emission economy by 2050 while building clean-energy and technology jobs. Biden and other administration officials have been stressing U.S. climate intentions during early one-on-one talks with foreign leaders, and Biden climate envoy John Kerry has focused on diplomacy abroad to galvanize climate efforts.

Biden discussed the summit in a conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with both leaders agreeing on the need to keep emissions-cutting targets ambitious, the White House said. (AI|MTVN)

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