Cop27: Joe Biden promises US will meet 2030 emissions target and pledges methane curbs

President Joe Biden has told the Cop27 climate summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh that the US will meet its emissions target by 2030 to do the country’s part in averting the “climate hell” the UN secretary-general warned of earlier this week.

Mr Biden addressed the annual climate conference on Friday as his administration plans to supercharge efforts to reduce methane emissions.

The president said he could announce “with confidence” the country’s commitment to meeting its target of reducing emissions by 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“The United States government is putting our money where our mouth is,” he said, adding that US spending, such as the new Inflation Reduction Act, would “change the paradigm” and ensure the US hits emissions targets.

“Folks, we’re proving a good climate policy is a good economic policy. A strong foundation for durable, inclusive and resilient economic growth is driving progress in the private sector – is driving progress around the world,” he told the conference.

The US has committed some $375bn over a decade to fight climate change (AFP via Getty Images)
The US has committed some $375bn over a decade to fight climate change (AFP via Getty Images)

“And the sum total of the actions my administration is taking puts the United States on track to achieve our Paris Agreement goal of reducing emissions by 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.”

Mr Biden then implored Cop27 to “take a moment to emphasise how meaningful it is that I can say that,” citing his achievement of having introduced the first-ever piece of climate legislation into the Senate in 1986.

“My commitment to this issue has been unwavering,” he reflected.

“Today, I can say finally with confidence that the United States of America will meet our emissions target by 2030,” the president announced to keen applause.

At the opening of the climate summit in Egypt on Monday, UN secretary-general António Guterres warned that humanity was on a “highway to climate hell” – a vision of armageddon Mr Biden said the US was “racing ahead to avert.”

The president then went on to address that he was not “ignoring harbingers who are right here.”

Joe Biden apologised for his country leaving the Paris Agreement (AP)
Joe Biden apologised for his country leaving the Paris Agreement (AP)

“It’s true the climate crisis is hitting hardest those countries and communities that have the fewest resources to respond and to recover,” he added. “And that’s why, last year, I committed to work with our Congress to quadruple US support to climate finance, and provide $11bn annually, including $3bn for adaption.”

He went on to announce a down payment of more than £350m in initiatives that “specifcally support and prepare adaptation efforts” throughout Africa.

This will include support for early warning systems, widening access to climate finance, providing disaster-risk protection, strengthening food security and mobilising the private sector, Mr Biden said.

During the speech, the attention of the conference was briefly diverted by protesters standing up and holding a sign in the room in which the president was speaking.

Mr Biden’s speech was not interrupted and security guards approached the group of protesters to remove their sign.

In a joint announcement with the EU earlier, Mr Biden set in motion a crackdown on greenhouse gas, known to contribute significantly to global warming and pack a stronger short-term punch than even carbon dioxide.

The measures expand on a similar regulation his administration released last year which targeted emissions of methane from existing oil and gas wells across the US, rather than focusing only on new wells as previous Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations have done.

The new rule goes a step further to affect all drilling sites, including smaller wells that emit less than 3 tons (2.7 metric tonnes) of methane per year.

Scientists said today that global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are on track to rise around 1 per cent this year, warning this would make it harder for the world to avoid disastrous levels of climate change.

As such, the Biden administration will embark upon “a relentless focus to root out emissions wherever we can find them,” White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi said.

It is hoped the president’s speech in Sharm el-Sheikh will remind countries to stay focused on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Protesters hold a banner as president Joe Biden speaks at Cop27 (AP)
Protesters hold a banner as president Joe Biden speaks at Cop27 (AP)

Mr Biden’s decade-long pledge of $375bn to fight climate change gives his administration greater sway in pressing other nations to fulfil their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shift the global economy toward cleaner energy sources.

Earlier on Friday, German special envoy Jennifer Morgan said: “It’s a very good sign that president Biden is coming to this COP (summit). I think it reassures countries, people that the United States at the highest level takes this issue incredibly seriously. And we need that.”