President Biden Heads to Cop26 as Pope Makes Plea for Conference

Photo credit: Reuters

President Joe Biden has landed in Europe ahead of the crucial climate talks, but allies are weary the US will deliver on climate change. Biden arrived in Rome on Friday for the G20 summit, and will head to Glasgow afterwards for the UN Climate Change Summit, known as COP 26.  

Biden has vowed to tackle climate change as a core issue, and has described global warming as an “existential threat” to civilization. 

However, the president is arriving without climate legislation firmly in hand, partly because the US spending bill is still held up in the Senate, which includes major resources to fight climate change. Biden is bringing a dozen cabinet members to COP. 

Pope Francis has also issued a special message in the run-up to COP, urging leaders to take ‘radical’ climate action at the summit. In the recorded message, he called for leaders to rethink about the future of our world. Francis will not be attending the summit. 

In his statement, the Pope said that Covid and climate change have exposed the world’s vulnerabilities, and raised concerns over economic systems and how our society is organized. He said solutions can only be pursued through a renewed sense of shared responsibility for the world. 

He urged the leaders coming to COP to provide effective responses to the ongoing crisis. 

Biden’s predecessor Trump pulled the US out of the landmark Paris climate agreement, calling climate science “bullshit.” So the bar was set pretty low for U.S. involvement in climate talks. Biden’s attendance at COP is a good start, but allies want promises and commitment from the US for action. Biden will need to reestablish American credibility at COP26, and provide not just words, but action. 

At COP, delegates from nearly 200 countries will come together in hopes of an agreement aimed at avoiding a disastrous 1.5C of global warming, which is one of the key objectives of the Paris deal.

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