Over the past two weeks, many of us were in Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, a global conference of world leaders, members of the civil society, and non-profit organizations, all coming together to address the climate crisis. The United States was represented there by a whole-of-government team, led by President Biden and his bold and unprecedented commitment to the climate fight, as well as Secretary Blinken, many additional Cabinet Secretaries and senior members of the administration, and 50 members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi. I was proud to join them alongside Assistant Secretary Medina and so many outstanding State colleagues.
The gathering was anything but business as usual. Thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of our team of climate diplomats, both at COP26 and in the months leading up to it, we emerge from Glasgow closer to achieving our goals than ever before. 197 countries dramatically raised global ambition to confront the climate crisis. The outcome kept within reach our ability to avoid chaos by limiting the earth’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
I want to share some key moments from the conference and ask that all of you lend your voice in this critical battle to save our planet and build back a better global economy for all. Check out the White House National Climate Task Force and State Department – Climate Crisis, and follow me at @ClimateEnvoy to stay up to date on the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate actions.
Key COP26 Highlights
During the World Leaders Summit at COP26, President Biden took the stage to demonstrate U.S. climate leadership and announce new actions to tackle climate change, tap economic opportunity, and strengthen global climate ambition.
The United States joined 113 other countries covering 85% of the world’s forests in the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest aiming to end deforestation by 2030. The United States also launched the Plan to Conserve Global Forests, an all-of-government effort to preserve global ecosystems that serve as vital carbon sinks, and joined the Global Forest Finance Pledge, mobilizing a total of $12 billion to combat deforestation.
President Biden has pledged to quadruple climate finance for developing countries, including a sixfold increase in adaptation support. In Glasgow, he launched the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), the largest U.S. initiative ever to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts. The decision coming out of Glasgow urges developed countries to double adaptation finance by 2025.
During the conference, the United States, the European Union, and partners formally launched the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative to reduce global methane emissions to keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. A total of over 100 countries representing 70% of the global economy and nearly half of anthropogenic methane emissions have now joined the Pledge.
The U.S. and EU are proud to announce over 100 participating countries and over $300M in financial support for #GlobalMethanePledge, formally launched today @COP26. Success will mean >0.2C reduction of warming by 2050, which is crucial to keeping 1.5C within reach.
— Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry (@ClimateEnvoy) November 2, 2021
On November 2, the United States joined the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. The ocean and climate are inextricably linked, and ocean-based climate solutions are an essential element of keeping the goal to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. Within five years, the United States will develop a national Sustainable Ocean Plan to sustainably manage our ocean area under national jurisdiction. We look forward to working with the Ocean Panel to protect our ocean, our climate, our people, and our planet.
Thank you @JohnKerry 🇺🇸 for helping us putting the ocean at the forefront of #ClimateAction @COP26 and remind the 🌎 that ocean science is key to predict and address #ClimateChange! #OneOceanScience #OceanScienceMatters
👉 Meet our scientists: https://t.co/wtuOtcLGGb pic.twitter.com/albO0P3wqT
— Ifremer 🌊 (@Ifremer_fr) November 1, 2021
Another major breakthrough during COP26 was the joint declaration by the United States and China. The U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s is a mark of progress and a solid foundation for continued cooperation on climate. China pledged to phase down coal consumption and to develop an ambitious methane plan by COP27. The world can only achieve its climate goals if our countries are pulling in the same direction.
Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment
At COP26, I joined the President and the World Economic Forum to launch a major public-private partnership, the First Movers Coalition, through which 34 leading global companies valued at $6 trillion made commitments to purchase innovative technologies this decade across heavy industry and long-distance transportation to make it possible to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. We also launched other public-private partnerships including the Clean Energy Demand Initiative and Climate Entrepreneurship for Economic Development. To speed clean energy transitions around the world, the United States launched Net-Zero World to marshal the 17 US National Laboratories and provide critical technical assistance to key partner countries. Finally, the United States and the United Arab Emirates led the launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, which counts 80 partners including 33 countries and has mobilized an “early harvest” of $4 billion to advance climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation.
Our Multifaceted Strategy on Climate
A Whole-of-Government Approach
Watch this video for an overview of how President Biden has directed a whole-of-government approach to tackling this climate crisis. Hear from Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Blinken, and the Secretaries of Energy, Transportation, Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and the heads of USAID and the EPA about U.S. priorities and goals across sectors.
Leadership Across Government, Business, and Organizations
Tackling the climate crisis is imperative – it is also the greatest economic opportunity of our time. Leaders from across the United States came #TogetherForOurPlanet and underscored the importance of tackling this crisis at every level of the United States. In this video, White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Land O’ Lakes CEO Beth Ford, and International Vice President of the United States Steel Workers Union Roxanne Brown, explain how they are tackling the climate crisis and using this moment as an economic opportunity for their communities.
Finally, the United States was proud to release our Long-Term Strategy to achieve our ambitious goal of net-zero emissions no later than 2050. This Strategy lays out pathways consistent with keeping 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach, mobilizing across our economy with all actors.
The world has entered the decisive decade for confronting the climate crisis. As you can tell, COP26 already helped summon more ambition to face this emergency than the world has ever seen. Since day one of his Administration, President Biden has made beating the climate crisis a central fixture of our domestic and foreign policy.
Here’s What Comes Next
Still, a gap remains between the ambition the world demonstrated and the actions we need to solve this challenge. We always knew that Glasgow would be a new beginning, not a finish line. It will be up to us to keep the attention and urgency laser focused so that we continue to implement solutions and act with the urgency we need.
We’ll build on the success we saw at COP26 to help secure a more prosperous future for all — and I’m looking forward to staying connected. For now, please stay up to date on the Biden Administration’s climate news at White House National Climate Task Force and State Department – Climate Crisis, and follow me at @ClimateEnvoy on Twitter.
We can still secure cleaner air, safer water, and a healthier planet. Let’s get to work.
About the Author: John Kerry serves as the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.
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