President Joe Biden is including rivals Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China among the invitees to the first big climate talks of his administration, an event the U.S. hopes will help shape, speed up and deepen global efforts to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuel pollution, administration officials told The Associated Press.
The president is seeking to revive a U.S.-convened forum of the world’s major economies on climate that George W. Bush and Barack Obama both used and Donald Trump let languish. Leaders of some of the world’s top climate-change sufferers, do-gooders and backsliders round out the rest of the 40 invitees being delivered Friday. It will be held virtually April 22 and 23.
Hosting the summit will fulfill a campaign pledge and executive order by Biden, and the administration is timing the event to coincide with its own upcoming announcement of what will be a much tougher U.S. target for revamping the U.S. economy to sharply cut emissions from coal, natural gas and oil.
The session – and whether it’s all talk, or some progress – will test Biden’s pledge to make climate change a priority among competing political, economic, policy and pandemic problems. It also will pose a very public — and potentially embarrassing or empowering — test of whether U.S. leaders, and Biden in particular, can still drive global decision-making after the Trump administration withdrew globally and shook up longstanding alliances.
The Biden administration intentionally looked beyond its international partners for the summit, reaching out to key leaders for what it said would sometimes be tough talks on climate matters, an administration official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. plans for the event.
Trump mocked the science underlying urgent warnings on global warming and the resulting worsening of droughts, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. He pulled the United States out of the 2015 U.N. Paris climate accords as one of his first actions. That makes next month’s summit the first major international climate discussions by a U.S. leader in more than four years, although leaders in Europe and elsewhere have kept up talks.
U.S. officials and some others give the Obama administration’s major-economies climate discussions some of the credit for laying the groundwork for the Paris accord. The United States and nearly 200 other governments at those talks each set targets for cutting their fossil-fuel emissions, and pledged to monitor and report their emissions. Another Biden administration official said the U.S. is still deciding how far the administration will go in setting a more ambitious U.S. emissions target.