COP27: Joe Biden apologises for the US pulling out of the Paris climate agreement


COP27: Joe Biden apologises for the US pulling out of the Paris climate agreement

President Joe Biden has apologised for the United States pulling out of the historic Paris climate accord.

Mr Biden, who re-joined the agreement within hours of taking office, told the COP27 climate conference in Egypt that his administration was “putting our money where our mouth is.”

The president’s speech was briefly interrupted by a group of fossil fuel protesters, who were quickly removed from the venue in Sharm-El-Sheikh.

Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump took the US out of the Paris Agreement, under which leaders committed to limiting warming to 1.5C in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown.

Sky News understands some western diplomats are concerned the 1.5C goal could slip out of reach at the talks, with consensus on it fracturing.

President Biden arrived buoyed from the results of the midterm elections, which are on course to be the best for a president’s party in about two decades.

The surprise outcome follows a major $370bn climate bill that was passed by a whisker by Congress in August in the face of fierce Republican opposition.

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Biden said the spending, part of broader economic legislation he signed into law this year, will “change the paradigm” and ensure the US hits its target for reducing emissions by 2030.

Earlier, he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, where he raised the issue of human rights under the authoritarian regime.

Egypt’s presidency of the summit has been tainted by outrage at its imprisoning of political prisoners, famously British-Egyptian writer Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Delegates have also complained about a lack of food, water and internet at the venue, as well as a sewage leak on Wednesday.

The White House will hope Biden’s address, as well as a smattering of announcements and appearances by senior Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, positions the US as a climate leader – particularly after the hiatus years under Mr Trump.

But it is still the world’s biggest oil producer and biggest historical polluter – and the average American emits far more carbon dioxide than citizens of any other major economy.

It is also one of many countries falling short on cutting emissions as promised and coughing up long overdue cash to fund climate measures in developing countries.

Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a think tank, said: “I’d rather have one apple in my hand than the promise of five that never come… We need straightforward funding that directly goes to communities and countries.”

Antony Froggatt from research institute Chatham House said the US has “still much to do to repair its reputation on climate change, and particularly important will be international finance.”

COP27: Joe Biden apologises for the US pulling out of the Paris climate agreement

Dissatisfied campaigners gathered outside the conference zone where Mr Biden spoke, waving blue banners and shouting “pay up for loss and damage” – referring to calls by vulnerable countries for compensation for brutal climate impacts they did not cause.

They and other countries will judge the US’s leadership in part on its willingness to engage on the issue, and on fossil fuel phase out.

So far at the talks, “the US and other major economies are essentially allowing this [conversation] to continue, nodding a lot but not actually saying very much”, according to Collin Rees, US programme manager at Oil Change international, who has been observing the discussions.

“There’s a big worry that heading into the second week and really the crux of the negotiations, that’s when they might play their cards and say, ‘absolutely not’,” he told Sky News.

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