Biden calls on major economies to shore up climate financing before Cop28

US President announces more than $1 billion in funding to help developing countries tackle climate change

President Joe Biden speaks at the fourth virtual Major Economies Forum on energy and climate. AP
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US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced plans to increase Washington's support for developing countries in the fight against climate change during the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate.

Mr Biden announced $1 billion in US funding during the virtual forum for the UN's Green Climate Fund and requested $500 million for the Amazon Fund to combat deforestation in Brazil.

He invited other MEF countries to join the US in raising at least $200 million by Cop28 to help developing countries mitigate their own methane emissions.

“We have to step up our ambitions. We're going to have to stand together and meet great challenges and we will preserve our planet in the future,” Mr Biden said.

“As we look forward to Cop28, we all need to show up in Dubai with 2030 targets and actions aligned with the Paris temperature goals. We're already seeing the signs of what's to come if we don't.”

The President was referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed was among the participants of the MEF forum, during which he emphasised that "sustainable economic development and climate action are two factors linked to a better quality of life for people".

Dubai is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference, or Cop28, in November.

The gathering will have the urgent task of mobilising global action around a “major course correction” to accelerate emissions reductions while ensuring energy security, said the UAE embassy in Washington.

Mr Biden also called on development banks, including the World Bank, to increase lending for climate change.

“Climate security, energy security, food security — they're all related,” he said.

The countries that take part in the forum account for about 80 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and global gross domestic product, according to the White House.

The lowest-income countries produce one tenth of global emissions, but are the most heavily affected by climate change, the World Bank reported. Climate change effects in these countries include health problems, food and water stress, and more.

Mr Biden's remarks echo concerns voiced earlier this month in a roundtable discussion with Cop28 President-designate Dr Sultan Al Jaber, International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva, and Mark Carney, UN special envoy for climate action.

“For vulnerable communities, across the Global South, climate finance is nowhere near available, affordable or accessible enough,” said Dr Al Jaber, who is also UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.

He added that only 20 per cent of clean technology investment is going to developing countries that make up more than 70 per cent of the global population.

During his remarks, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to “put a price on carbon” and shift fossil fuel subsidies to finance a “just transition” to renewables.

“The International Energy Agency estimated that these subsidies came to $1 trillion in 2022 – which is insanity,” said Mr Guterres.

“Today’s policies would make our world 2.8°C hotter by the end of the century … and this is a death sentence."

He called for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries to phase out coal by 2030 and by 2040 in all other countries while ending all licensing or funding – both public and private – of new fossil fuel projects.

“You have the power to ensure that they leverage their funds to mobilise much more private finance at reasonable cost to developing countries, and that they end all support for fossil fuels,” he said.

A new report launched this month by the International Energy Agency warned that the possibility of limiting global average temperature rises to 1.5°C was “narrowing rapidly.”

The sweeping report showed that energy-related CO2 emissions continued to rise in 2022 despite declining costs for clean energy technologies and the “dynamic deployment of renewables, electric cars and other solutions”.

Countries and entities that make up the Major Economies Forum include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, the UK, India, Australia, Canada, China, the European Commission, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

Updated: April 20, 2023, 5:09 PM