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Biden, other world leaders try to hammer out next steps on climate

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Ever-grimmer findings from scientists this year that the world is nearing the point where the level of climate damage from burning oil, gas and coal becomes catastrophic and irreversible represent a code red for humanity, Biden said at the session’s outset.

“We have to act and we have to act now, Biden said, speaking on a specially erected White House set that showed virtual arrays of solar panels in the background and a wall of other global leaders listening on screens.”

He cited his recent tour of communities hit by wildfires in California and Hurricane Ida in the northeastern US and the Gulf evidence that warnings of natural disasters worsening in number and severity as the climate warms already are becoming reality.

Drought and rising temperatures have made Californias wildfire season virtually year-round now, state fire officials say. And a study out this year concluded sea rise caused by global warming contributed $8 billion in additional damage to 2012s Superstorm Sandy.

“Over the last two weeks, I’ve travelled across the United States to see the damage and destruction,” Biden said.

“Climate continues to change across Europe, Africa and Latin America, and you’ve endured massive flooding.”

The Biden administration billed the meeting as a chance for some of the world leaders to strategize how to achieve big, fast cuts in climate-wrecking petroleum and coal emissions. The administration also is trying to re-establish the United States’ Major Economies Forum a climate group set up by President Barack Obama and revived by Biden – as a significant forum for international climate negotiations.

The Friday’s meeting followed a much bigger and splashier virtual White House climate summit in April that saw scores of heads of governments representing allies and rivals, and big economies and small making sweeping speeches about the need for action against climate change.

The provided list of Friday’s attendees included only nine leaders: those of Argentina, Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, the UK, and the European Council, European Union Commission and United Nations.

China, India and Russia, with the United States, are the nations that emit the most climate-damaging gases from the production and burning of oil, natural gas and coal, and there was no word on their leaders’ taking part.

Climate advocates have stressed the importance of the US coordinating with Europe and Asia for a joint front in coaxing China, which emits more climate-damaging fumes than the rest of the developed world combined, to move faster on cutting its use of dirty-burning coal-fired power plants in particular.

Biden, in the public opening of the otherwise private talks, also discussed a new US agreement with the European Union aiming at cutting the two entities’ emissions of methane nearly a third by the end of this decade. Methane is a potent agent of climate damage that wafts up by the ton from countless uncapped oil and gas rigs, leaky natural gas pipelines, and other oil and gas facilities.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2021

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