The secretary of state said the United States would lose “ countless jobs ” if it does not catch up with China in climate policies.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on US diplomats around the world to challenge nations whose actions are delaying efforts to tackle climate change, according to prepared remarks.
His speech also presented the challenge of global warming as a chance to create more jobs and export American values.
Blinken gave his first climate change speech in Annapolis, Md. On Monday ahead of a virtual summit hosted by the United States this week.
US President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders to discuss new steps they will take to bolster their commitments to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement with the aim of signaling that ‘He prioritizes the issue and tries to rally global action early in his administration. .
“Our diplomats will challenge the practices of countries whose action – or inaction – sets the world back,” Blinken said.
“When countries continue to depend on coal for a significant amount of their energy, or invest in new coal plants or allow massive deforestation, they will hear from the United States and our partners about how badly these actions are. harmful. “
Blinken said the Biden administration would place the climate crisis at the center of its foreign policy, but that would not mean treating countries’ climate progress “like a chip they can use to excuse bad behavior” and that “the Biden-Harris administration is united. So. Climate is not a collectible card. “
This argument appeared to be aimed at rebutting growing criticism, particularly from Republican policymakers, that Biden’s climate envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry, could swap American interests in a push for the climate cooperation with China and ignore its oppressive policies. Kerry was in China last week for meetings with her Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua.
“I’m with John 100% in this effort,” Blinken said of Kerry’s role, calling the former top US diplomat “my friend.”
The challenge of facing and following China will be a central part of US climate policy. Blinken said the United States would miss its chance “to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects our interests and values, and we will lose countless jobs for the American people” if they don’t catch up. China.
He called China “the world’s largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles”.
Blinken’s speech is the first in a series of events planned ahead of a virtual summit Biden is hosting from Thursday that will bring together leaders of the world’s biggest polluters to discuss how to deal with global warming and other climatic disasters.
The United States is expected to use this week’s summit to unveil its goal of reducing greenhouse gases, a key part of the Paris climate agreement that Biden brought in by the United States on the first day of its mandate.
Biden’s focus on climate policy follows four years in which former President Donald Trump has largely dismissed the issue. Rather than portraying climate change only as an existential threat – Blinken has said the United States’ primary goal is to prevent disaster – the administration also describes it as a way to spur innovation, jobs and global influence in the United States.
The United States would also increase the amount of aid it sends to the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, such as low-lying island countries, Blinken said, adding that in 2020 it was only receiving 3 % of international climate finance.
“We have to solve this problem,” he said, adding that Washington is deploying experts to these countries to build early warning systems and prepare infrastructure for climate change.