President Biden told world leaders on Monday that “we only have a brief window before us to raise our ambitions” to fight climate change, warning that climate disasters were already imposing trillions of dollars of economic costs but offering hope that a shift to lower-emission energy sources could create millions of jobs around the world.
“Glasgow must be the kickoff of a decade of innovation and ambition to preserve our shared world,” Mr. Biden said in a speech that lasted just over 11 minutes, near the beginning of a session with fellow leaders at the U.N. summit on climate change, known as COP26.
Badly undercut by domestic politics, Mr. Biden arrived in Glasgow with a weaker hand than he had hoped for. Opposition in Congress has forced him to abandon the most powerful mechanism in his climate agenda: a program that would have quickly cleaned up the electricity sector by rewarding power companies that migrated away from fossil fuels and penalizing those that did not.
His fallback strategy is a bill that would provide $555 billion in clean energy tax credits and incentives. It would be the largest amount ever spent by the United States to tackle global warming but would cut only about half as much pollution.
The president touted the potential emissions reductions in the bill, but even that pared-down measure has uncertain prospects to make it through Congress and to Mr. Biden’s desk. He hopes to pair it withalthough they have yet to be completed and could be undone by a future president.
Mr. Biden did not lay out more ambitious short-term targets or pledges for American emissions reductions, beyond those he detailed at a climate meeting in April, although he said he would release on Monday a long-term plan to bring the United States to net-zero emissions by 2050.
He also did not call out China —— for insufficient action on emissions reduction. Instead, he called for global cooperation.
“We’re still falling short,” he said. “There is no more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves. This is a challenge of our collective lifetime.”
Mr. Biden said that in the days to come, his administration would detail new efforts to reduce emissions through forestry and the agriculture and oil and gas industries. And he pledged additional U.S. support for developing nations in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
“God bless you all,” Mr. Biden said, slightly tweaking his traditional speech-closing remarks, “and may God save the planet.”