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The Biden administration will 'work on three fronts' to combat climate change

Aarthi Swaminathan
·3 min read

U.S. Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry provided a three-pronged framework for how the Biden administration plans to advance its commitments to address climate change.

“The United States will work on three fronts to promote ambition, resilience, and adaptation,” Kerry said at the inaugural Climate Adaptation Summit on Monday.

First, according to Kerry, the U.S. will leverage innovation and climate data and information “to promote a better understanding and management of climate risk, especially in developed countries.”

Second, the U.S. will “significantly increase the flow of finance including concessional finance through adaptation and resilience initiatives” and “work with bilateral and multilateral institutions to improve the quality of resilience programming.”

Third, the U.S. will partner with the private sector domestically and also in developing countries to “promote greater collaboration between businesses and the communities in which they depend.”

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden listens as former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, his special presidential envoy for climate appointee, speaks as President-elect Biden announces his national security nominees and appointees at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Joe Biden listens as former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, his special presidential envoy for climate appointee, speaks at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

A key aspect of this initiative could be the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, an agency created in December 2019 as an investment vehicle for American soft power to counter China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that recently committed up to $2 billion on a renewable energy initiative in developing countries.

“It is our firm conviction throughout all of our administration,” Kerry added, “every agency is now part of our climate team.”

Other speakers at the conference included British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others. The summit was hosted by the Netherlands.

A top priority of his administration’

Upon taking office, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change. The U.S. had withdrawn from the agreement under the Trump administration in 2017.

“President Biden has made fighting climate change a top priority of his administration,” Kerry said. “We have a president now.... who leads, tells the truth, and is seized by this issue. … [and] knows that we have to mobilize in unprecedented ways to meet a challenge that is fast accelerating.”

The U.S. will rejoin after a 30-day notice period. Signatories to the agreement pledge to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, looking to limit that rise further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Nearly 200 countries are part of this climate treaty.

Kerry expressed regret over the U.S. absence in the last three years on this issue of climate change.

“In the United States, we spent $265 billion in one year for three storms, just cleaning up after those storms,” he said. “Last year, one storm, $55 billion. We reached the point where it is an absolute fact that it’s cheaper to invest in preventing damage, or minimizing it at least, than cleaning up.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Kristalina Georgieva also echoed the financial damage incurred by climate change.

“For us at the IMF, we see climate as a fundamental risk to economic and financial stability,” she stated. “And we see climate action as an opportunity to reinvigorate growth, especially after the pandemic, and to generate new green jobs. So for us, it is mission critical.”

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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