Biden and his allies look beyond China on climate

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National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Air Force One reporters on their way to Glasgow that China was one of the “major outliers … which will not be represented at the leadership level at COP26 and which , in our view, has an obligation to be more ambitious. as we go along. And we will continue to insist on it.

But he added: “There are also other countries.”

As Beijing ruled out US overtures, Biden instead turned to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for his first bilateral meeting during the UN COP26 talks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also featured in Widodo’s diary.

Indonesia contributes far from the 27 percent of global emissions that the Chinese economy spits out. But it is still responsible for 2% of global greenhouse gases and is one of the world’s largest coal exporters. Experts say it will be impossible to stop climate change without addressing greenhouse gases produced by large countries like this with growing economies.

With little commitment from China, the US, EU and UK are all trying to put pressure on Indonesia, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil to win potential climatic victories – and hope to achieve their goal of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial temperature. levels. Above that bar, many disastrous climate changes are blocked, from rising sea levels to devastating storms and punitive droughts.

Biden and his climate envoy John Kerry have engaged in aggressive shuttle diplomacy with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country is the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide. The two governments worked on agreements to provide public and private finance to help India meet Modi’s goal of deploying 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030, equivalent to the capacity of over 400 nuclear reactors.

Modi announced a new goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2070. He also announced targets for India to significantly increase its clean energy capacity by 2030 and reduce its emissions intensity, a measure of the amount of greenhouse gases released per unit of economic activity.

A UK official said India’s “meaty” short-term goals would boost the clean energy sector so much that the country’s 2070 target would look fairly conservative.

The pressure on Modi is not just coming from the United States. Its former British colonizers sought to leverage their historic ties to Delhi to get Modi to make a major announcement at the event. Modi and Johnson met during talks at the UN, where the British leader announced a “green guarantee” between the UK and India, which Downing Street said would release more than $ 1 billion in funding. World Bank funding for clean energy and other green projects.

The UK official said the strategy of targeting large coal-using nations with incentives was obvious to get “the best value for money”. Many of these economies are at a “turning point” where the right investments can allow them to leap out of traditional development paths that have historically relied on coal. India is the world’s second largest consumer of coal behind China.

The strategy also has the advantage of deepening ties with countries that have been attracted to China through its Belt and Road investment program, such as South Africa, which has received investments in China. Beijing’s energy sector.

The United States and several European countries have launched a clean energy financing deal in the government of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in an effort to help decarbonize Eskom, the struggling state-owned coal company backed by the State. This partnership is starting to bear fruit.

On Tuesday, Biden, Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are expected to launch the “Partnership for a Just Energy Transition” alongside France and Germany to reorganize South Africa’s electricity sector. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it “particularly interesting”, adding that it could “show that it is possible to phase out coal. I think this can serve as a pilot project for many countries on the African continent. “

Kerry too praised in a tweet Brazil’s new pledge on Monday to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2028, halve the country’s emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

Critics argue that Bolsonaro – who like former US President Donald Trump has regularly mocked climate science – cannot be trusted to deliver on those commitments, and that he has already authorized the destruction of vast swathes of the rainforest and that he is simply loosening his position ahead of a difficult re-election. Next year. But Kerry anyway continued engagement with Bolsonaro’s government despite skepticism from environmental and indigenous groups.

Kerry even touted Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s recent climate initiatives, visiting him in Mexico shortly before the G-20 meeting where many world leaders met before heading to Glasgow. Kerry’s trip came as the Mexican president pursued constitutional changes giving Mexico’s state-backed power company more market share, a move that opponents say would crush renewable energy in the country.

Despite these fears, Kerry told reporters that Mexico is “committed to deploying all of the major renewables – geothermal, hydro, wind and solar – which they weren’t even willing to talk about literally a few months ago.” .

Meanwhile, Johnson pitched the idea that Indonesia might consider phasing out coal-fired electricity by 2040, with comments following the G-20 calling for an end to the fuel source. Kerry told reporters the United States had been in contact with Indonesia for months.

But for Indonesia, which is made up of thousands of islands that could be threatened by rising sea levels, climate change poses complex challenges.

“It has always been more than smut with Indonesia,” Jonathan Pershing, Kerry’s deputy at the State Department, told POLITICO. He noted that oil shipments to the archipelago nation for heating are on the increase and the widespread cutting of carbon storage forests for palm oil production is occurring under his watch.

Another British official said his negotiators in Glasgow had stepped up efforts to attract “regional influencers” following China’s withdrawal from the conference, with a particular focus on South East Asia. Countries were “chosen sectorally,” including Vietnam on charcoal and Thailand on deforestation.

Vietnam is also seen as a prize, given its location on the doorstep of China. Johnson met with Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính last Sunday, and then British diplomats met again with Chính just before he left for Glasgow. On Monday, he committed to a goal of net zero for 2050.



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