In his COP27 speech on Friday, Biden said the US is ‘unwavering’ on climate aid and will meet its emission targets by 2030. The address came amid better-than-expected midterm elections results, marked by surprise wins for Democrats.

Kept away from the UN summit by the midterm elections, US President Joe Biden joined world leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh on Friday. In his 20-minute speech, he pressed his ‘unwavering’ commitment to combating climate change and insisted the US would meet its emission targets by 2030 and fulfil the Paris Agreement goal.

Biden’s COP27 speech was centred around America’s progress and leadership on climate change thanks first and foremost to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a flagship climate and tax legislation setting aside US$269 billion for the energy transition and the expansion of clean energy infrastructure across all states. 

“Today, finally, thanks to the actions we’ve taken, I can stand here as president of the United States of America and say with confidence, the United States of America will meet our emissions targets by 2030,” he said in his speech.

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While midterm elections ballots are still being counted in some states, Biden sought to reassure global leaders that the results wouldn’t backslide the country’s efforts to cut emissions. Despite Democrats’ surprising Senate victory on Saturday, however, some party’s lawmakers at COP27 expressed concerns about Republican gains, admitting they could spell trouble for the country’s climate efforts.

Without big reveals, Biden detailed his administration’s policies and efforts to support developing nations in dealing with the effects of climate change. In his first UN speech as president last year, Biden committed to $11.4 billion a year to help poorer nations fight climate change and on Friday, he promised world leaders America would deliver that money by 2024. 

“The upheaval we’re seeing around the world, especially Russia’s brutal attack against Ukraine is exacerbating food shortages, and energy spikes and costs, increasing volatility in those energy markets, driving up global inflation,” the US President said in his speech. “Against this backdrop, it’s more urgent than ever that we double down on our climate commitments. Russia’s war only enhances the urgency of the need to transition the world off its dependence on fossil fuels.”

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US climate envoy John F. Kerry – who outlined a new carbon trading scheme on Wednesday seeking to expand the sale of carbon credits with the goal of boosting renewable projects in developing countries – warned the summit’s attendees that they are “not going to see that money” if Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives. While the Democratic Senate victory has now been officialised, Republicans are inching closet to a House majority.

“It’s quite likely if for some reason the GOP ekes out control of the House of Representatives, they will nix the Climate Committee,” said Kathy Castor, the Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, during a panel discussion. “They have not really been partners in tackling the climate crisis.”

Despite mentioning recent climate disasters that have caused destruction across the globe, showing that no one is safe from the threats of global warming, Biden did not address climate reparations. The issue, commonly referred to as loss and damage compensation, was put on the COP27 agenda for the first time since the first summit took place more than two decades ago.

Biden, whose stay in Egypt lasted just a little over three hours, will fly to Indonesia to attend the Group of Twenty (G20), set to begin on Tuesday. 

Featured image: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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