(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – After US President-elect Joe Biden takes office – and as more countries struggle with climate impacts – policies addressing global warming are expected to start appearing on various world bodies by 2021, climate diplomats said on Thursday.
That could include the World Trade Organization preparing to deal with disputes over a planned “carbon boundary tax” – tariffs on imports from countries that do not tax emissions at the source – and the UN Security Council addressing climate-related threats.
For security officials, “climate change is no longer a multiplier of threats – it is a threat”, said John Podesta, former US President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and adviser to former US President Barack Obama, in an online event.
Veteran Democratic politician Biden will take office on January 20 and has promised a comprehensive green agenda to fight climate change, both in the United States and globally.
Connie Hedegaard, former European Commissioner for Climate Action, said government groups such as the G7 and G20 are likely to consider more ambitious climate policies after climate-skeptical US President Donald Trump is not there to block efforts.
This could potentially lead to efforts towards a global agreement on phasing out high carbon energy, as well as a regulatory framework for sustainable finance, he predicted.
In a growing number of international forums, “climate voices can be present, whatever the larger topic is being discussed there,” he said. “That’s very important.”
Podesta said Biden’s appointment of John Kerry, Obama’s former secretary of state, as his special envoy for climate suggests the new US president intends to push for international climate action as strong as domestic climate policy.
Biden is likely to initiate action to return the United States to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change – which Trump issued last year – on his first day in office, Podesta said.
He also promised to hold an international summit within the first 100 days of his term aimed at pushing for greater global ambitions to tackle climate change.
But drafting a new US national contribution to the Paris Agreement may take until late spring or early summer, Podesta said, to ensure that what has been promised internationally fits into domestic climate plans.
Biden said he wanted to put the United States on track to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035, and have net zero emissions across the economy by 2050, in line with new pledges by countries from Japan to South Korea.
FINANCE FOR VULNERABILITY?
Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, a low-lying Pacific atoll nation, said having an ambitious US contribution to the Paris Agreement quickly was key to pushing forward the ambition that other nations need more.
“We are catching up. We are in a deep hole, “said Stege, whose country leads the” High Ambition Coalition “which is pushing for stronger global efforts to reduce emissions.” The US is critical to driving ambition and action. “
Countries like hers – which are only 2 meters (6.5 feet) above sea level – also need quick financial assistance to adapt to warming-driven sea level rise, he said.
“The need for adaptation is not being met, even as the need to adapt to climate change is increasingly pressing,” he added.
During his campaign, Biden said he would seek to fulfill financial promises to the international Green Climate Fund, $ 2 billion of which was not delivered by the Trump administration.
The move may now be easier after Democrats took control of the US Senate following the recent second round of elections in the state of Georgia, giving them more control over spending.
“The new government has the potential to make financial commitments that give countries like myself a chance to fight,” said Stege.
Reported by Laurie Goering @lauriegoering; edited by Megan Rowling. Appreciate the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a Thomson Reuters charity. Visit news.trust.org/climate