President Joe Biden will be “on track” to deliver on his promise to make the US a leader in fighting climate change when he arrives in Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.
The president previously committed the US to cut its carbon emissions in half by the year 2030, and is scheduled to deliver a major address to attendees at the Glasgow conference even as it remains unclear whether the Clean Electricity Performance Program – the putative centrepiece of climate measures in his Build Back Better economic plan – or any parts of it will be included in the package members of Congress hope to vote on this week.
Mr Sullivan, who briefed reporters on Tuesday on Mr Biden’s plans for visits to the G20 summit in Rome as well as the UN conference, said the president “intends to make good” on his commitments, which also include a doubling of US international finance commitments to help other countries reach goals laid out in the Paris Climate Accords.
Asked whether the failure by Mr Biden and Democrats in Congress to pass a climate plan before his departure will hurt US credibility on the issue when he meets with allies in Rome and Glasgow, Mr Sullivan said world leaders are “excited” by “the effort that President Biden has undertaken to design and now negotiate an ambitious, effective practical set of investments in climate and clean energy and infrastructure and economic growth in the United States,” rather than the internal political efforts required to implement those investments.
“They want to see the United States making these investments,” Mr Sullivan continued, adding the caveat that allies “also recognize that the United States has a set of democratic institutions has a Congress that this is a process that it needs to be worked through”.
“I believe that whether there is a deal this week or whether the negotiations continue, there will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the effort the President is undertaking right now to make bold, far-reaching investments that will deliver on his commitments, both with respect to climate and with respect to economic growth,” he said.
Pressed further on whether Mr Biden’s own credibility with world leaders could be damaged by the lack of a deal in-hand before he arrives in Glasgow, Mr Sullivan said Mr Biden would be meeting with “a sophisticated set of world leaders who understand politics in their own country and understand American democracy and recognize that working through a complex, far reaching negotiation on some of the largest investments in modern memory”.
“I don’t think that world leaders will look at this as a binary issue [of] Is it done [or] is it not done. They’ll say: “is President Biden on track to deliver on what he said?” Mr Sullivan said. “We believe one way or the other, he will be on track to do that”.
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