- Congressional Democrats called on President Joe Biden to strengthen the nation’s position in the “international fight against the climate crisis” and take initiatives that ensure the country remains on target for a “livable future” in a letter released Nov. 30, the first day of the COP28 climate summit.
- The letter — spearheaded by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and signed by 32 other lawmakers — urges Biden to support stronger national climate commitments aligned with the Paris Agreement, negotiate a full phase-out of fossil fuels and establish stronger standards to prevent financing for international fossil fuel projects.
- The lawmakers also said the U.S. should pursue stronger financing efforts to help developing nations improve climate resilience and clean energy transition plans, as well as aid them in adopting environmental justice principles.
The letter, also signed by Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, referenced the “alarming findings” of the first-ever Global Stocktake. The United Nations-backed global assessment of the progress made toward achieving the Paris Agreement goals found that the world is not on track to meet the long-term goals. The lawmakers said the U.S. needed to set more ambitious targets to accelerate progress.
The letter comes on the heels of the publication of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, which warned that carbon emissions are not decreasing fast enough in the U.S., despite declines in emissions from their 2007 peak and innovations to move to zero- and low-carbon electricity and fuels. The report also found current emissions reductions are not sufficient to meet national and international climate commitment goals.
Democratic lawmakers said despite recent climate action initiatives, the U.S. was still a prominent consumer of fossil fuel products and “by far the largest historical emitter.” The letter said the U.S. alone contributed a total of $757 billion in explicit and implicit fossil fuel subsidies in 2022, and approved $1.7 billion in public funding for international fossil fuel projects in 2023. Among those was the Biden administration’s decision to greenlight the Willow Project in Alaska, which is expected to release nearly 254 million metric tons of carbon emissions over 30 years. Further, the letter said the U.S. had become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in 2022 and is set to double its liquefaction capacity by 2027.
“We urge the Administration to support the move toward an extensive, expedient, and equitable phase-out of fossil fuel production and consumption,” the letter said. The lawmakers said despite committing to the Glasgow Statement at COP26, the U.S. has not backed away from fossil fuels and prioritized renewable energy, as outlined in the agreement.
“The United States has failed to adhere to this commitment and has continued to use taxpayer dollars to fund international fossil fuel projects,” the letter continued. “We urge the Administration to address this by publicly releasing a plan explaining how the United States will stop all public financing of international unabated fossil fuel projects.”
The lawmakers also said such a fossil fuel phase-out plan would help address the rapid growth of “greenwashing” carbon offsets and net-zero pledges that include no action to scale down fossil fuel investments.
This is not the only effort by Democrats to support climate action during COP28. Markey, in conjunction with German Parliament Member Lisa Badum and Canadian Senator Rosa Galvez, published a petition letter asking for countries to “take immediate and decisive action” against the proliferation of liquefied natural gas infrastructure around the world.
The trio called on leaders attending the summit to adopt an ambitious target for the global deployment of renewables and “impose an immediate moratorium on the expansion of LNG infrastructure,” in an effort to halt the public financing and permitting of these projects, according to the letter obtained by ESG Dive.