The U.S. turns up the heat at climate talks

While the world’s # 2 greenhouse gas polluter exercised diplomatic influence, often dwarfing its UK leaders, the US failed to persuade China to take a firm vow to increase its climate change ambitions. And the US, like other major economies, has complied with demands to tone down the “coal phase-out” call instead of eliminating the fuel most responsible for climate change. Nonetheless, the US presence has helped increase the urgency of the talks, delegates said, especially after the four years of the Trump administration when the US largely ignored the issue.

“There is a big difference,” said Spanish Minister for Ecological Change Teresa Ribera in an interview referring to the renewed US push. “Of course, higher ambitions and domestic plans will be needed in the US, not just in emerging markets.”

The re-entry of the USA on the field brought some “pizzazz” into the talks, Halima Bawa-Bwari, environmental scientist at the Nigerian Ministry of Climate Change and one of the country’s negotiators said as she watched Kerry “walk around the room all evening.”

Even in the waning moments before the final deal was sealed, Kerry could be seen shuttling between the Chinese and Indian delegations to resolve disagreements over calls for the exit from most fossil fuel and coal-fired subsidies. It was a push from India and backed by many other developing countries that weakened the language of the definitive coal deal.

“You see, there is a big problem with China and India – the US is at the center,” said a French official. “Is it the right deal we’re getting? I do not know.”

Often in the activist tone of the 13-day event, Kerry mocked the “definition of insanity” government subsidies for fossil fuels, predicted that the US would be “out of coal” by 2030 and guaranteed the US will Democrats would happen. Reconciliation Act, which provides for $ 555 billion in spending on climate-related measures.

But at home, US lawmakers showed little appetite for tax breaks on fossil fuels to be phased out. And while the bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden is about to sign this week includes more than $ 100 billion in climate-related measures, the larger one is $ 1.75 trillion The climate and social spending law is anything but secure, as the Democrats argue among themselves. And despite Kerry’s remark about the end of coal in the US, the federal government has few mechanisms to shut down the industry – something some Democrats like as West Virginias Senator Joe Manchin, vigorously against it.

The US has “a lot more to do,” Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, told POLITICO. “First, a domestic plan and set of laws must be put in place to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”

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