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Climate change will dominate Biden’s agenda when he heads to Europe in two weeks


US President Joe Biden delivers remarks and participates in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate Session 5: The Economic Opportunities of Climate Action from the White House in Washington, DC, on April 23, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Europe in two weeks, the White House said in a statement on Thursday, with the global climate crisis on the forefront of the president’s agenda.

The journey will mark the second overseas trip of Biden’s presidency, and comes as he attempts to take action to address the threats of global climate change. It also signals his re-engagement with global allies in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s tumultuous relationships with other nations.

Biden will travel to Glasgow, Scotland, where he will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, from Nov. 1 to 2, according to the press release.

The president is also sending nearly half of his Cabinet to COP26, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, according to a White House official. The U.S. delegation will call on nations to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions required to “meet the demands of science” and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry will lead the delegation of senior Biden administration officials and remain in Glasgow for two weeks.

Biden will first visit the Vatican City on Oct. 29 to meet with Pope Francis. They intend to discuss efforts to combat the climate crisis, Covid-19 pandemic and poverty, among other contentious global issues, the statement said.

The president will then attend a two-day summit of G-20 leaders in Rome, according to the press release.

The leaders are expected to decide whether to approve an international tax plan developed in July by financial leaders from the Group of 20 large economies. The plan would establish a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15%, and would change the way companies such as Amazon and Alphabet’s Google are taxed.

Details about individual bilateral engagements will be forthcoming, the press release said.

Biden will round off his trip by attending COP26, which was originally due to take place in 2020 but was pushed back due to the pandemic.

The summit will see world leaders come together to discuss more ambitious climate action as U.N. researchers warn that global warming is dangerously close to spiraling out of control.

The U.N. released a damning report in August that delivered a stark warning on climate change. In the first installment of four reports released under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, researchers observed changes to climate that were projected to be “irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.”

For instance, the reports found that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are responsible for about 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming from around 1850-1900 till today. It also found that the global temperature is expected to reach or surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, averaged over the next 20 years.

The Biden administration has pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030 and achieve a net-zero economy by mid-century. The Obama administration had set a goal to cut emissions by up to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, but Trump stopped federal efforts to meet that target.

In May, the president also issued an executive order requiring the development of a governmentwide climate change risk strategy, and an annual assessment of climate-related financial risks in the U.S. budget.

Democrats are trying to pass a bill that will encourage the adoption of green energy and the construction of climate-resilient buildings and infrastructure as part of the president’s economic plan.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, suggested that Democrats will likely have to trim $1 trillion or more from their $3.5 million climate and social safety net proposal to push it through Congress amid squabbles between the party’s progressive and moderate wings.

The other senior Biden administration officials attending COP26 are:

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenTreasury Secretary Janet YellenNational Climate Advisor Gina McCarthyTransportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegEnergy Secretary Jennifer GranholmInterior Secretary Deb HaalandEPA Administrator Michael ReganAgriculture Secretary Tom VilsackUSAID Administrator Samantha Power

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