In Biden climate show, watch for cajoling, conflict, pathos

Apr 21, 2021, 3:04 PM | Updated: Apr 22, 2021, 4:08 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — It won’t rival Netflix for drama, but 40 world leaders will try to save the planet from ever-worsening global warming in a two-day climate summit livestreamed for binge viewing.

While there will be many faces on screen, this will clearly be President Joe Biden’s show.

Biden will convene the summit on Thursday, and what he says will call the shots for what’s to come. He’s trying to show that the United States is again serious about cutting pollution of heat-trapping gases with a new American goal for reducing emissions. Then he’ll try to cajole other nations to ratchet up the pollution-cutting promises they made in 2015’s Paris climate agreement. All of it via virtual diplomacy.

Along the way, there may be intrigue, potential conflicts and pathos. A viewer’s guide:

HOW TO WATCH

All sessions will be livestreamed on the White House and State Department channels. Sessions are scheduled to run from 8 a.m. EDT to midday on Thursday and Friday.

THE THEME

It’s simple: The U.S. is returning to the climate fight and wants to lead again.

After the United States helped negotiate the last two climate agreements — 1997’s Kyoto Protocol and 2015’s Paris accord — Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump backed out. The United States last year became the only country to leave the Paris deal.

For the Biden administration, this summit is “their version of ‘we’re baaack,'” said Henry “Jake” Jacoby, co-founder of the MIT Center for Global Change Science. “And they want to do that in a dramatic way.”

That dramatic way is to announce one of the world’s most ambitious national goals for cutting the gases that cause climate change: cutting them between 50% and 52% by 2030 compared with 2005.

“That is quite a welcome message after the four years we painfully witnessed,” said Christiana Figueres, the former U.N. climate chief, who helped forge the Paris accord. “The fact that the United States is back is very important.”

WHY WATCH

Human-caused climate change is getting worse around the globe. On average about 23 million people a year are displaced by weather-related storms, fires and floods, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Hundreds of billions of tons of snow and ice are lost each year. Sea level rise is accelerating.

In Paris, world leaders set two goals to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) and if possible to limit it to no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) compared with pre-industrial temperatures. However, the world has already warmed almost 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius).

“We are on the verge of the abyss,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday.

Leaders still hope that somehow the more stringent Paris goal can be met even as scientists say it is less and less likely.

The leaders attending the summit represent “the group that will make it possible that we keep the 1.5-degree goal within reach,” U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa told The Associated Press.

THE KEY ANNOUNCEMENT

The Paris agreement calls for ratcheting up 6-year-old commitments to cut carbon emissions with tougher goals aimed at 2030.

Biden’s new target aims for cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from 50% to 52%, aiming to achieve it by emphasizing decarbonization across the government and economy.

That would put “the U.S. at the top of the pack,” said former Obama White House environment official Kate Larsen, a director at the private research Rhodium Group. It would be about the same as the European Union but behind the United Kingdom.

After the U.S. announces its target, other nations will be invited to present tougher targets.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Just as important is money, Espinosa said. That’s because poorer nations, which are using polluting fossil fuels to develop, need financial help to switch to cleaner but more expensive fuels. The Paris agreement commits richer nations, like the United States, to spend billions of dollars to help poorer nations because it makes the world cleaner for everyone, she said.

Years ago, the developed world committed to $100 billion in public and private financial help, much of which hasn’t been paid. Eventually that needs to increase to $1 trillion a year because that’s how much it will take to get the world to decarbonize and help poorer nations adapt to rising sea levels, worsening storms and other climate harms, former climate chief Figueres said.

The U.S. promised $3 billion in aid in Paris but paid only the first $1 billion. Then Trump canceled the rest. Biden has put $1.2 billion in his latest budget proposal.

“The U.S. is way behind on its commitment because of those four Trump years,” Figueres said. “And needs to play catch up, not on its own, but hand-in-hand with all of the other industrialized nations.”

Also look for private companies to contribute.

WHOM TO WATCH

This is Biden’s show, and he will kick it off, formally announcing the 50% to 52% emissions cut. He’ll be followed by the leaders of the world’s biggest economies, which spew 80% of the greenhouse gases.

The U.S., which has put the most greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over decades, and current top carbon-polluting nation China, last week issued a joint statement saying they’re working together to be more ambitious on climate. Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver an important speech, the government announced. Also keep an eye on the leader of India, the third-biggest emitter.

Then there’s the human factor. The tighter Paris goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius is because small island nations, such as the Marshall Islands and Jamaica, said further warming and sea level rise could wash them out of existence. Some of those leaders will talk at the summit.

“The message they will bring humanizes climate change,” Figueres said. “Let’s not only talk about gigatons (of emissions), let’s talk about human impact today, not just in the future.”

ALSO STARRING

Others to closely watch: leaders of Japan and South Korea, who are being pressured to stop financing new coal power plants in other countries.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro will be on the spot because his country’s 2030 goal is weaker than the nation’s 2025 goal and there’s pressure to stop Amazon deforestation. And Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who has clashed with Biden, will also appear.

But there’s more. Pope Francis will speak on Thursday, while Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are featured on Friday. Mayors, governors, financial leaders, numerous Biden appointees plus Vice President Kamala Harris and indigenous and youth activists will also get screen time.

THE SEQUEL

This all leads to formal climate negotiations in November in Glasgow, Scotland, which is the big follow-up to the Paris agreement. The United Nations is counting on nearly 200 nations to announce tougher emission cut targets before that meeting, which will hash out still lingering issues.

“This week is getting the ball rolling,” said Nigel Purvis, a former State Department climate negotiator in Democratic and Republican administration.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A health worker takes a swab sample of a passenger entering the city to test for COVID-19 at a rail...
Associated Press

WHO says measures used against delta should work for omicron

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Measures used to counter the delta variant should remain the foundation for fighting the coronavirus pandemic, even in the face of the new omicron version of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Friday, while acknowledging that the travel restrictions imposed by some countries may buy time. While about three dozen […]
18 hours ago
FILE - San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Mailliard Shultz makes preparations prior to a ser...
Associated Press

San Francisco philanthropist, chief of protocol dies at 88

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, the long-reigning chief of San Francisco protocol and unofficial aide to 10 mayors, died Friday of complications from cancer. She was 88. The socialite died at her Stanford home, designer Stanlee Gatti confirmed to multiple news outlets. Friends and family called her a true San Franciscan — she […]
18 hours ago
Pope Francis attends a ceremony at the Apostolos Barnavas Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus, Fr...
Associated Press

In Greece, Pope to seek deeper ties with eastern churches

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Pope Francis heads to Greece Saturday for the second leg of his trip to the region, with meetings in Athens aimed at bolstering recently-mended ties between the Vatican and Orthodox churches. Francis’ five-day visit to predominantly Orthodox Cyprus and Greece is largely focused on the plight of migrants as Europe hardens […]
18 hours ago
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the Crumbley residence while ...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: How unusual to charge parents in school shooting?

Guns used in U.S. school shootings have often come from the homes of young perpetrators, but parents are rarely charged for the violence that occurs, experts say. That’s what makes the case against Ethan Crumbley’s parents uncommon, following the fatal shooting of four students at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan. Oakland County prosecutor Karen […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Fire official: Gas odor after blast razes Oklahoma City home

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Fire crews on the scene after an explosion leveled a house in Oklahoma City on Friday could smell gas, a fire official said. Neighbors reported the blast about 3:20 p.m. “It felt like a bomb had happened, a big old bomb,” neighbor Esperanza Hernandez said. “The structure here is pretty much […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Officer killed, suspect wounded in Dallas-area shooting

MESQUITE, Texas (AP) — A shooting outside a suburban Dallas supermarket left a police officer dead and a suspect wounded on Friday, authorities said. It happened about 1:40 p.m. outside an Albertson’s supermarket in Mesquite, Police Chief David Gill said. The officer was responding to a report of a disturbance in the store parking lot […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
In Biden climate show, watch for cajoling, conflict, pathos