Joe Biden warns climate crisis threatens ‘very life of planet’ at COP27

US President Joe Biden warned the climate crisis threatens the “very life of the planet” at COP27 in Egypt.

Biden urged world leaders gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh to “double down” on their resolve to fight global warming, saying America is on track to meet its emissions targets by 2030.

“We can no longer plead ignorance to the consequences of our actions, or continue to repeat our mistakes,” Biden said.

He spoke about efforts his country had undertaken to tackle climate change.

The leader of the globe’s biggest economy also apologised for dropping out of the Paris Agreement under his predecessor Donald Trump.

He said in a speech: “Today, thanks to the actions we have taken, I can stand here as president of the United States of America and say with confidence the US will meet our emissions targets by 2030.

“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 to 52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.”

As he spoke protesters stood up and held a sign reading ‘People vs. Fossil Fuels’ before security guards approached them. Shouting could be heard in the room as they were removed.

But Biden ploughed on how he introduced the first piece of climate legislation in the US Senate in 1986 and stated his “commitment to this issue has been unwavering.”

Activists lift banner reading:
Activists lift banner reading:

Noting that the past eight years have been the warmest on record, Biden said those gathered in Egypt “see our mission” to avert climate disaster and create a clean economy, adding it was not only important for the future, but in the eyes of history.

“Here in Africa, home to many nations considered the most vulnerable... The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security and the very life of the planet.”

Biden said the US is facing forwards to avoid the “climate hell” the UN warned about this week, insisting: “We’re not ignoring the harbingers that are already here.”

Echoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the president said Russian’s war on Ukraine - worsening food security and the world’s economy - made it more urgent than ever to double down on climate commitments, calling on every country to align with targets to limit global warming to 1.5C.

However, Biden insisted he remains optimistic about work that remains to be done, adding: “We have to put down significant markers of progress.”

“Yes, the challenges we face are great but our capacity is greater, we must never doubt that,” he said.

“So let’s reach out and take the future in our hands and make the world we wish to see and we know we need, a planet preserved for generations to come... that’s why we’re here.”

Biden promised to tighten US rules on methane emissions from oil and gas companies. Methane is the most potent greenhouse gas and significantly contributes to the warming of Earth’s atmosphere.

Ending his speech, he also pledged more money for poorer nations suffering from climate disasters, including drought and flooding. But the sums remain far short of what the US, along with other developed nations, have promised.

About 35,000 people are in Sharm el-Sheikh for the two-week meeting.

Biden spent just three hours in Egypt, including a meeting with the country’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, before continuing on an around-the-world trip. His next stop was Cambodia for a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders and then Indonesia for the annual Group of 20 summit of the world’s largest economies.

In 2022, global carbon emissions remain at record highs, with no sign of the falls needed to curb dangerous climate change, scientists have warned.

If the world continues with current levels of emissions, there is a 50 per cent chance that global temperature rises will hit 1.5C – a threshold beyond which the worst impacts of climate change are expected – in nine years, analysis from the Global Carbon Project says.