US must lead world on climate crisis, says Biden

By: AFP      Published: 12:21 AM, 28 Jan, 2021
US must lead world on climate crisis, says Biden

President Joe Biden said Wednesday the United States must lead the global response to the climate crisis, as he signed a raft of orders aimed at curbing rising temperatures and announced a climate summit in April.

"Just like we need a unified national response to Covid-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis," Biden said in remarks delivered at the White House. 

"We must lead the global response, because neither challenge can be met, as Secretary (John) Kerry has pointed out many times, by the United States alone."

Biden had made confronting global warming a key pillar of his campaign, and on Wednesday repeatedly called it an "existential threat" as well as an opportunity for the economy and jobs growth.

"In my view, we've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can't wait any longer. We see it with our own eyes. We feel it. We know it in our bones. And it's time to act," he said.

The United States will host a summit on April 22 where it is expected to strengthen its carbon reduction commitments under the Paris agreement, which aims to limit long term warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The other orders include a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal and public land, establishing climate considerations as an essential element of US foreign policy and national security.

But Biden said the US would not ban hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which has allowed the country to become the world's top producer of natural gas and is seen by policy experts as a transition energy, despite its many harmful impacts.

The administration will also resurrect a presidential council of science advisors, directing agencies to invest in areas with deep economic ties to fossil fuels, and assisting communities disproportionately impacted by environmental harm.