US President Joe Biden told the COP26 climate summit Monday that the massive response needed to stop the climate crisis should be seen as an opportunity for the world’s economies.
“Within the growing catastrophe I believe there’s an incredible opportunity — not just for the United States, but for all of us,” he said in his speech to the summit.
Biden, who has reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to abandon global action on the crisis, promised US leadership and “action, not words.”
“The United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of example. I know that hasn’t been the case and that’s why my administration is working overtime,” he said.
And at a later event, Biden said public opinion was changing as the impact of climate change hits home.
“The American people four or five years ago weren’t at all sure about climate change and whether it was real,” he said. “Well, they have, as they say in southern parts of my state, seen the Lord.”
Much of his speech was angled on his insistence that the greening of the economy should be seen as a jobs booster.
Biden pushed back against criticism that reducing greenhouse gases and reliance on fossil fuels will hurt jobs, arguing that “it’s about jobs”.
Electrifying transport, building solar panel and wind turbine networks “create good, paying union jobs for American workers”.
Continuing down the same path is already causing economic damage, Biden said.
“We’re standing at an inflection point in world history,” Biden said, describing the proliferation of wildfires, droughts and other climate-related disasters.
“Climate change is already ravaging the world,” he said. It’s not hypothetical. It’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.
“We have the ability to invest in ourselves and build an equitable, clean-energy future and in the process create millions of good paying jobs and opportunities around the world.
“We meet with the eyes of history upon us,” Biden told the summit in Glasgow, Scotland. “Every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases, so let this be the moment when we answer history’s call, here in Glasgow.
“God bless you all and may God save the planet,” he said in closing.
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