WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden included his counterparts Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China among the guests at his administration’s first major climate talks, an event the United States hopes will help design, accelerate and deepen global action to reduce fossil fuel and climate-altering pollution, officials told The Associated Press.
Biden intends to reactivate a forum of the world’s leading economies on climate change that was convened by his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but not by Donald Trump. The rulers of some of the countries most affected by climate change, as well as other nations, complete the rest of the 40 invitations that will be extended on Friday. The meeting will be held virtually on April 22 and 23.
The event will coincide with the announcement of a much stricter goal for the United States to restructure its economy to reduce emissions from the consumption of coal, natural gas and oil.
The session – and whether it’s all talk or progress – will test Biden’s commitment to making climate change a priority amid political, economic and health woes. It will also be a very public – and possibly embarrassing or empowering – test to see if US rulers, and Biden in particular, can still push for global decisions after President Donald Trump retreats globally and shakes up old alliances.
Trump scoffed at warnings about global warming and the ensuing worsening of droughts, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. In 2015, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement. This makes next month’s summit the first major international climate discussion led by a US president in more than four years, although the rulers in Europe and elsewhere have continued the talks.
Like the climate forums organized by Bush and Obama, Biden included in his guest list the leaders of the world’s largest economies and the European blocs. This includes Russia and China, countries with which Biden and his diplomats have friction over issues such as electoral meddling, cyberattacks and human rights. It is unknown how those two countries will respond to the invitations from the United States, or if they are willing to cooperate with Washington in reducing emissions while they continue to clash on other issues. China is the top emitter of climate-damaging pollution, followed by the United States. Russia is the fourth.
Brazil is on the list of the great economies, but it lagged considerably during the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, which canceled actions to preserve the Amazon and aligned itself with Trump to ignore international climate commitments.