President Joe Biden joined world leaders on Monday in pledging to address climate change, addressing a conference an ocean away from Washington, where his agenda and ability to deliver on those promises remained the subject of ongoing talks.
In a speech to the United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow, Biden likened the global experience battling Covid-19 to the need to combat rising temperatures and the extreme weather events that accompany them.
“In an age where this pandemic has made so painfully clear that no nation can wall itself off from borderless threats, we know that none of us can escape the worst that’s yet to come if we fail to seize this moment,” Biden said.
The speech comes as part of Biden’s second overseas trip to Europe in his first year as president. As with his prior trans-Atlantic trip, the president worked to distance himself from his predecessor’s dismissive approach to the world stage and climate change issues.
“We’ll demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table, but hopefully leading by the power of our example,” he said. “I know it hasn’t been the case, and that’s why my administration is working overtime to show that our climate commitment is action, not words.”
Biden has made climate and green energy investment a key pillar of his signature Build Back Better agenda, which has idled for months as Democrats struggle to coalesce around a top-line price tag and the substance of legislation. Republicans in Congress have universally derided the trillion-plus social spending legislation, forcing Democrats to shepherd the legislation through the unwieldy reconciliation process with threadbare majorities in both chambers.
Biden, in his speech on Monday, recalled wildfires, droughts and floods that have each devastated regions of the United States in recent years and noted that other countries have dealt with similar devastation of their own that experts say has only been exacerbated by climate change.
“Climate change is already ravaging the world,” he said. “It’s not a hypothetical threat. It’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods, and doing it every single day.”
Hours earlier the White House released a 65-page document outlining the Biden administration’s strategy to cut domestic greenhouse gas pollution in half over this decade and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.