Senate's clean energy fight may vex Biden at climate conference

Benjamin J. Hulac, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

The World Meteorological Organization said Monday global greenhouse gas concentrations hit a record high in 2020 and rose at a faster annual rate than average despite economic and travel lockdowns due to COVID-19.

“At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general for the WMO. “We are way off track.”

Under the Paris climate agreement of 2015, world governments agreed to forestall global temperatures ideally from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than they were before the Industrial Revolution and no more than 2 degrees maximum.

There are U.N. climate summits most years, but this one, scheduled for Oct. 31 through Nov. 12, is more important than others. It marks the deadline for countries to submit their climate targets, known formally as “Nationally Determined Contributions,” or NDCs.

While the U.S. and many European nations have submitted more ambitious climate goals since Paris, some high-emitting nations, including Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and Australia did not increase their ambition, according to the Climate Action Tracker, which tallies climate contributions.

The Paris agreement bound governments to submit long-term agreements by 2020, though COVID-19 delayed those submissions after organizers canceled the Glasgow meeting originally scheduled for last year.


Executive orders

Speaking to reporters last week, Jean-Pierre said the president was addressing climate change through executive orders as his administration pursues electric vehicle programs, the phase-down of potent greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons and a build-out of offshore wind farms.

“So we have done a lot here. The president has,” she said.

Asked the next day what Biden’s message would be to world leaders if he arrives in Glasgow without the clean electricity provision ironed out, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said, “His message is that he is a president who will bring the climate crisis back to the top of the priority list for the United States.”


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