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Biden’s Intelligence Director Vows to Put Climate at ‘Center’ of Foreign Policy

Credit…Pool photo by Graeme Jennings

Avril Haines, President Biden’s director of national intelligence, told world leaders on Thursday that climate change was no longer a peripheral issue but now “at the center” of U.S. foreign policy, with far-reaching impacts on force deployments and the stability of hard-hit regions.

Ms. Haines, speaking at this week’s virtual global climate conference, struck a tone of urgency at variance with the attitudes of many of her predecessors, who downplayed the role of rising sea levels, droughts, crop failures, fires, diseases and more frequent severe weather events.

“To address climate change properly it must be at the center of a country’s national security and foreign policy,” she said, echoing the words of Lloyd J. Austin III, the defense secretary, who addressed the conference a few minutes earlier.

“It needs to be fully integrated with every aspect of our analysis in order to allow us not only to monitor the threat but also, critically, to ensure that policymakers understand the importance of climate change on seemingly unrelated policies,” Ms. Haines said.

Her comments came after NATO officials announced they would likely agree on a climate “action plan” to reduce emissions by military units and conduct an alliance-wide assessment of the potential threats arising from climate disruptions.

On Thursday, the C.I.A. announced it was adding a new category covering the environment to its World Factbook. The agency’s unclassified guide will now provide the latest country data on climate, air pollutants, infectious diseases, food security, waste and other environmental topics.

Ms. Haines began by saying that the intelligence services had long recognized the importance of climate change — and praised efforts by the C.I.A. over the last three decades to identify the geopolitical impact of climate-based changes in Russia, Asia, Africa and the Arctic.

“We have not always made it a key priority,” she added.

The Biden administration has promised to put a new focus on climate change at the nation’s intelligence agencies. Top intelligence officials all pledged in their confirmation hearings to increase their agencies’ focus on climate.

A pair of recent intelligence reports have presented a grim picture of climate change. The annual worldwide threat assessment, which looks at short-term challenges, said extreme weather caused by climate change would increase the potential for surges in migration and cause instability around the globe.

The changes will “exacerbate political instability and humanitarian crises,” the annual threat report said.

The intelligence agencies issued even more dire warnings with the quadrennial Global Trends report issued on April 8, which argued that climate change would contribute to instability, strain military readiness and encourage new political movements. It said that all societies would be forced to adapt to a warmer planet through changes both small and complex, including the building of massive new sea walls and the relocation of cities and towns.

The report said the physical effects of climate change would intensify over the next 20 years, particularly in the 2030s, and the impact would fall disproportionately on poor parts of the world.

Some Republicans have expressed reservations at expanding the intelligence community’s focus on climate change. At a hearing last week, Ms. Haines argued that while there was partisan division over the issue, intelligence analysts have been examining the issue for decades during administrations of both parties.

“It’s just become increasingly accepted as something that is part of the national security landscape,” she said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes part in the virtual international climate summit with President Biden on Thursday.
Credit…Pool photo by Kay Nietfeld

President Biden on Thursday declared America “has resolved to take action” on climate change, and the White House said it would substantially increase the money it offers to developing countries to address the issue.

In a show of renewed resolve after four years of the Trump administration’s unvarnished climate denial, Mr. Biden formally pledged that the United States would cut its emissions at least in half from 2005 levels by 2030. His administration also announced it intends to double by 2024 the amount of money it offers to help developing countries, compared with what the United States spent annually in the second half of the Obama administration.

Barely three months into Mr. Biden’s presidency, the contrast with his science-denying predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, could not have been more striking.

“The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” Mr. Biden said.

John Kerry, President Biden’s global climate change envoy, said he believes the United States will meet and possibly even surpass the new goal.

Speaking at the conclusion of the first day of the summit, Mr. Kerry called the goal “ambitious but appropriate and achievable” and said the market is moving faster than expected in creating renewable energy and new breakthroughs are likely on the horizon in battery storage and other areas.

“Is it doable? Will we probably exceed it? I expect yes,” Mr. Kerry said.

Asked what the Biden administration can do now to prevent a future president from gutting the climate plans as President Trump did to the Obama administration, Mr. Kerry noted that he fielded that question in virtually every diplomatic discussion over the past three months.

“You destroyed your credibility, you left the Paris Agreement, how can we trust you?” Mr. Kerry said other leaders asked him. He insisted the private sector will cement clean energy policies into reality even if Mr. Bidens’ policies stall or are someday overturned.,

“No politician, I think, can change what is now happening in the marketplace.”

The Biden administration said it plans to offer an estimated $5.7 billion a year by 2024. In a statement, the White House said that it would “work closely with Congress to meet these goals.”

Between 2013 and 2016, U.S. international climate finance was around $2.5 billion a year, including in the form of export credit and loans, based on government data from that time.

Joe Thwaites from the World Resources Institute said the foreign aid pledges were not especially ambitious. “The climate finance plan the Biden administration launched today starts to play catch up after the U.S. was largely absent for the last four years — when many other developed countries already doubled their climate finance, and some committed to doubling again before 2025,” he said.

The two-day summit comes at a time when scientists are warning that governments must take decisive action to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels. The consequences of exceeding that threshold includes mass species extinctions, water shortages and extreme weather events that will be most devastating to the poorest countries least responsible for causing global warming.

Officially, nations that are party to the Paris agreement are obligated to announce their new targets for emissions cuts in time for a United Nations conference in Scotland in November.

In an executive order announced late Thursday morning, the White House also said it would “seek to” end investments in “carbon-intensive” fossil fuel projects abroad. It was also not clear if that referred to money for gas pipelines and terminals. The United States is a leading exporter of gas, and development aid has been used to promote the expansion of gas, including in Africa.

Mr. Kerry said in his remarks that no country alone would be able to finance the transition to a green economy, adding that private banks and asset managers would have to align their investments accordingly.

The summit is the first of its kind to be convened by a United States president, and Mr. Biden is joined by other world leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

While the summit is an international one, Mr. Biden’s speech was also aimed at a domestic audience, focusing not just on America’s obligation to help cut its global emissions but on the jobs he believes are available in greening the U.S. economy.

“The countries that take decisive actions now” to tackle climate change, Mr. Biden said, “will be the ones that reap the clean energy benefits of the boom that’s coming.”

Mr. Biden’s target of 50 percent to 52 percent by the end of the decade calls for a steep and rapid decline of fossil fuel use in virtually every sector of the American economy and marks the start of what is sure to be a bitter partisan fight over achieving it.

One of Mr. Biden’s biggest political obstacles is international: Republicans say the United States should not be asked to sacrifice if the world’s largest emitters will swallow U.S. efforts in their pollution.

Christopher Flavelle contributed reporting.

By 2030, half of the country’s electricity would come from renewable sources such as wind.
Credit…Bing Guan/Reuters

President Biden’s new pledge to slash the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decade is long on ambition and short on specifics, but experts say that success would require rapid and sweeping changes to virtually every corner of the nation’s economy, transforming the way Americans drive to work, heat their homes and operate their factories.

In several recent studies, researchers have explored what a future America might look like if it wants to achieve Mr. Biden’s goal: cutting the nation’s planet-warming emissions at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.

By the end of the decade, those studies suggest, more than half of the new cars and S.U.V.s sold at dealerships would need to be powered by electricity, not gasoline. Nearly all coal-fired power plants would need to be shut down. Forests would need to expand. The number of wind turbines and solar panels dotting the nation’s landscape could quadruple.

It’s achievable in theory, researchers say, but it’s an enormous challenge. To get there, the Biden administration would probably need to put in place a vast array of new federal policies, many of which could face obstacles in Congress or the courts. And policymakers would have to take care in crafting measures that do not cause serious economic harm, such as widespread job losses or spikes in energy prices, that could lead to blowback.

“It’s not an easy task,” said Nathan Hultman, the director of the University of Maryland’s Center on Global Sustainability. “We won’t be able to sit back and hope that market forces alone will do the job.”

In two recent studies, Mr. Hultman and his colleagues modeled possible paths to achieving at least a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. The changes would be far-reaching:

  • By 2030, half of the country’s electricity would come from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydropower, up from one-fifth today.

  • New natural gas plants would be built largely with technology that can capture carbon dioxide instead of releasing it into the atmosphere — technology that is still in its infancy.

  • Virtually all of the 200 remaining coal plants in the U.S. would shut down unless they, too, can capture their emissions and bury them underground.

  • By 2030, two-thirds of new cars and S.U.V.s sold would be battery-powered, up from roughly 2 percent today.

  • All new buildings would be heated by electricity rather than natural gas.

  • The nation’s cement, steel and chemical industries would adopt stringent new energy-efficiency targets.

  • Oil and gas producers would slash emissions of methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, by 60 percent.

  • The nation’s forests would expand, and farming practices would be reworked, so that they pull 20 percent more carbon dioxide out of the air than they do today.

China's president, Xi Jinping, delivered a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia on Tuesday. Mr. Xi promised Thursday that China would limit coal consumption.
Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Xi Jinping of China said his country would “strictly limit increasing coal consumption” in the next five years and phase it down in the following five years.

That’s significant because China is, by far, the world’s largest coal consumer and is continuing to expand its fleet of coal-fired power plants. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Mr. Xi repeated his pledge from last year to draw down carbon emissions to net zero by 2060. And, in a pointed reminder to his host, President Biden, he said that the industrialized countries of the West had a historic responsibility to act faster to reduce emissions.

The United States is history’s largest emitter. China is today’s largest emitter.

Mr. Xi added a conciliatory note by saying “China looks forward to working with the international community, including with the United States” on addressing climate change.

Neither China nor India, whose prime minister, Narendra Modi, spoke after Mr. Xi, made any new commitments to ramp up their climate ambitions. Mr. Modi repeated India’s pledge to expand its fleet of renewable energy projects, urged people to make lifestyle changes to address climate change, and announced a vague new partnership with the United States on green energy projects.

India’s once-galloping economy has slowed sharply and the country is currently in the throes of a deadly coronavirus surge.

A video monitor in the East Room of the White House showed the heads of state participating in the virtual climate summit on Thursday.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Beyond the big two of the United States and China, here’s an overview of what some American allies and adversaries have said so far at President Biden’s virtual climate summit with world leaders on Thursday.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged that Canada would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, a step up from its previous target of a 30 percent reduction in the same time frame. This is a significant increase in ambition for an economy that is still highly dependent on oil extraction, and a sign that Mr. Biden’s decision to increase the United States’ target is having an influence on his closest allies.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India reiterated his country’s promise to install 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030, but made no new commitments. He argued that India’s per capita emissions were far smaller than those of other major emitters and said, “We, in India, are doing our part.”

  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that Japan would cut emissions 46 percent below 2013 levels by the end of the decade, a significant show of solidarity with the United States.

  • President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas polluter, made only a vague pledge to “significantly reduce the net accumulated emissions in our country by 2050.” He highlighted a carbon pricing pilot program that he said would allow the Sakhalin region to become carbon neutral by 2025, but he said nothing about construction of the Nord Stream 2, a major natural gas pipeline that is opposed by both climate advocates and United States national security advisers.

  • President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil pledged to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030, a promise that was met with extreme skepticism by those in the environmental community who have seen the destruction of the Amazon skyrocket under his watch. Mr. Bolsonaro also vowed that Brazil would become carbon neutral by 2050, a decade earlier than it had previously said it would. Ending deforestation by 2030, he claimed, would cut Brazil’s emissions 50 percent.

Coral Davenport, Lisa Friedman and Somini Sengupta contributed reporting.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia attends the virtual climate summit from Moscow.
Credit…Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

The White House climate summit made history as the first digital gathering of 40 world leaders, according to Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, but demonstrated that even the world’s most powerful people are not immune from the Zoom-induced glitches that have plagued remote workers throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve never had this kind of virtual global summit before,” Mr. Brinkley said. “It was amazing to see how bad the technology is, and it makes you think, ‘How are we going to solve climate change when you can’t even do video linkage for world leaders?’”

The opening speeches by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were beset with painful echoes, evidently a result of overlapping microphone or speaker devices. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken introduced President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but the screen alternated between Mr. Putin and President Emmanuel Macron of France, as Mr. Putin sat in stony silence. And as China’s president, Xi Jinping, launched into his speech in Chinese, there was a prolonged delay before an English-language translator joined in.

Credit…Pool photo by Justin Tallis

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan acknowledged the realities of a virtual summit happening in multiple time zones, beginning his remarks with a cheery “Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.”

Mr. Brinkley said that the format — necessary because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — would probably severely limit the possibilities for diplomatic breakthroughs.

“Usually these world leader summits are about getting the people together to talk informally on the sidelines,” he said. “That’s the way things really get done — not when everybody’s watching you doing your fake, button-down posturing.”

The image was a stark contrast to the typical scene at global summits, in which leaders follow one another at a tall lectern in front of packed grand halls, punctuated by applause — or other large-scale in-person reactions.

Still, Mr. Brinkley said that even the tech-addled talks might help make some small headway in the intractable problem of global warming. “Even flawed video dialogue is better than nothing.”

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of the French president. He is Emmanuel Macron, not Emanuel.

Fossil fuel industry leaders said they want to contribute to President Biden’s pledge to reduce emissions.
Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Fossil fuel industry leaders reacted carefully Thursday to President Biden’s pledge to cut United States emissions in half by 2030.

Representatives from oil, gas and coal industries all issued statements saying they were committed to reducing the planet-warming pollution that their industries produce, and which scientists say are the dominant cause of climate change.

None directly criticized Mr. Biden’s promise to cut U.S. emissions between 50 and 52 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. But all insisted their industries will play a part in a decarbonized society, despite multiple studies showing that meeting the new U.S. goal will require a dramatic draw down of fossil fuels.

“Setting economywide goals to reduce GHG emissions is important to combating global climate change,” Amy Andryszak, president of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America said in a statement.

Ms. Andryszak said companies in her trade organization are “fully committed to being part of the climate solution” and that natural gas “provides tremendous opportunities for our nation and world to achieve climate goals.”

The increased use of natural gas in replacing coal has largely been responsible for drops in U.S. emissions over the past decade, but gas also produces methane, an equally dangerous greenhouse gas.

Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said his oil industry trade group “supports the goals of the Paris Agreement” but added the new U.S. target “addresses only half of the dual challenge” of reducing emissions while providing affordable energy.

He called on the Biden administration to impose a price on carbon and invest in innovation.

Michelle Bloodworth, president of America’s Power which represents coal producers and companies with coal-fired power plants, did not mention the targets explicitly or the Paris Agreement, but said the trade group “looks forward to working with the administration and Congress to find ways to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring the nation’s electricity grid is both reliable and resilient.”

Rick Spinrad in 2014 on a fishing research vessel docked in Newport, Ore.
Credit…Justin Bailie

President Biden on Thursday announced he would nominate Rick Spinrad, a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the country’s premier climate science agency.

The announcement potentially marks a new chapter for NOAA, which was at times a source of tension for former President Donald J. Trump, who publicly sparred with the agency’s scientists and was unable to get any of his nominees to lead it confirmed by the Senate. NOAA has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for the longest period since it was created in 1970.

In 2019, Mick Mulvaney, who was Mr. Trump’s acting White House chief of staff at the time, pushed NOAA to disavow statements by its weather forecasters that contradicted what the president had said about the path of Hurricane Dorian. Last year, the administration removed NOAA’s chief scientist from his role and installed people who questioned the science of climate change in senior roles at the agency.

Dr. Spinrad is a former chief scientist at NOAA, where he also led the agency’s research office and the National Ocean Service. The timing of Mr. Biden’s announcement was notable — on Earth Day amid a two-day climate summit in which he committed the United States to cutting emissions by half by the end of the decade.

The selection of Dr. Spinrad drew quick praise from the scientific policy community Thursday evening.

“We commend the Biden administration for continuing to nominate credible and well-qualified candidates who understand the urgency of the climate crisis,” Sally Yozell, the director of the environmental security program at the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, said in a statement.

Rear Adm. Jonathan White, the president and chief executive of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, called Dr. Spinrad “an excellent choice for this important role.”

Climate change activists in New York demonstrated during a global day of action in 2019.
Credit…Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off the virtual international climate summit on Thursday, Earth Day, at 8 a.m. with remarks that highlighted the importance of global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Pope Francis will speak on the same topic later.

Here is a breakdown of the biggest names and the topics they will address over the next two days.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and David Malpass, the World Bank president, who has recently expressed support for a net-zero carbon future, joined a morning session on financing climate change solutions. Later, speakers will highlight climate work on the local level and discuss security challenges posed by global warming.

On Thursday afternoon, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas will participate in a panel to discuss the logistical challenges climate change poses for government agencies.

The pope is scheduled to appear via video link sometime during the session that began at 10:30 a.m. In 2015, he published a treatise calling for countries to “care for our common home” and to accept scientific conclusions about human-induced global warming.

On Thursday afternoon, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III; the director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. representative to the United Nations, will participate in a panel on the international security implications of climate change with the Japanese defense minister, Nobuo Kishi, and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO.

On Friday, John Kerry, Mr. Biden’s top climate envoy, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will join a session on the importance of technological innovation in reducing carbon emissions.

On Friday, the secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg; the United States trade representative, Katherine C. Tai; and Mr. Biden’s climate advisers will convene a panel exploring “the economic benefits of green recovery and long-term decarbonization.” The panel will also include business leaders and union officials.

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, a billionaire who has bankrolled climate-related groups, will speak later in the day.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, will also speak as the founder of Breakthrough Energy, an investment fund that supports projects to reduce carbon emissions.

President Xi Jinping of China, the United States’ biggest rival on the world stage, is attending the virtual summit. So are Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, with whom the Biden administration is trying to negotiate a plan to protect the Amazon rainforest.

A number of prominent American allies have spoken, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Other key attendees include Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan — leaders from whom the Biden administration has been trying to secure commitments on emission reduction targets.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico are also attending. The White House has invited more than 40 world leaders in total.

Mr. Biden announced that the United States intended to cut planet-warming emissions in half by the end of the decade, a target that will require Americans to transform the way they drive, heat their homes and manufacture goods.

This nearly doubles the pledge made by the Obama administration, and the Biden administration hopes the announcement will galvanize other nations to increase their own targets.

The United States is partnering with Norway and Britain to protect tropical forests.
Credit…Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Britain, Norway and the United States said Thursday they would join forces with some of the world’s biggest companies in an effort to rally more than $1 billion for countries that can show they are lowering emissions by protecting tropical forests.

The goal is to make intact forests more economically valuable than they would be if the land were cleared for timber and agriculture.

The initiative comes as the world loses acre after acre of forests to feed global demand for soy, palm oil, timber and cattle. Those forests, from Brazil to Indonesia, are essential to limiting the linked crises of climate change and a global biodiversity collapse. They are also home to Indigenous and other forest communities.

Amazon, Nestlé, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline and Salesforce are among the companies promising money for the new initiative, known as the LEAF Coalition.

Last year, despite the global downturn triggered by the pandemic, tropical deforestation was up 12 percent from 2019, collectively wiping out an area about the size of Switzerland. That destruction released about twice as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as cars in the United States emit annually.

“The LEAF Coalition is a groundbreaking example of the scale and type of collaboration that is needed to fight the climate crisis and achieve net-zero emissions globally by 2050,” John Kerry, President Biden’s senior climate envoy, said in a statement. “Bringing together government and private-sector resources is a necessary step in supporting the large-scale efforts that must be mobilized to halt deforestation and begin to restore tropical and subtropical forests.”

An existing global effort called REDD+ has struggled to attract sufficient investment and gotten mired in bureaucratic slowdowns. This initiative builds on it, bringing private capital to the table at the country or state level.

Until now, companies have invested in forests more informally, sometimes supporting questionable projects that prompted accusations of corruption and “greenwashing,” when a company or brand portrays itself as an environmental steward but its true actions don’t support the claim.

The new initiative will use satellite imagery to verify results across wide areas to guard against those problems. Monitoring entire jurisdictions would, in theory, prevent governments from saving forestland in one place only to let it be cut down elsewhere.

Under the plan, countries, states or provinces with tropical forests would commit to reducing deforestation and degradation. Each year or two, they would submit their results, calculating the number of tons of carbon dioxide reduced by their efforts. An independent monitor would verify their claims using satellite images and other measures. Companies and governments would contribute to a pool of money that would pay the national or regional government at least $10 per ton of reduced carbon dioxide.

Companies will not be allowed to participate unless they have a scientifically sound plan to reach net zero emissions, according to Nigel Purvis, the chief executive of Climate Advisers, a group affiliated with the initiative.

“Their number one obligation to the world from a climate standpoint is to reduce their own emissions across their supply chains, across their products, everything,” Mr. Purvis said. He also emphasized that the coalition’s plans would respect the rights of Indigenous and forest communities.

Wood logs were stacked at a logging company in the state of Para in 2019. President Bolsonaro has pledged to end illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030.
Credit…Nelson Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil on Thursday pledged to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030, a promise that was met with extreme skepticism by those in the environmental community who have seen the destruction of the Amazon skyrocket under his watch.

Speaking at a global climate summit hosted by the United States, Mr. Bolsonaro also vowed that Brazil would become carbon neutral by 2050, a decade earlier than it had previously said it would. The new goal puts it in line with promises that many developed nations have made.

Ending deforestation by 2030, he claimed, would cut Brazil’s emissions 50 percent. And despite significantly weakening his country’s environmental enforcement agencies during his tenure, Mr. Bolsonaro promised they would be strengthened.

In 2020, Brazil’s space agency reported that deforestation had surged to its highest levels in 12 years.

While Mr. Bolsonaro did not explicitly ask on Thursday for funding in return for his promise, in a letter earlier this week he told John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, that Brazil “deserves to be fairly compensated for the Environmental Services its citizens provide for the planet.” He also pointed fingers at more developed countries for decades of burning fossil fuels, noting that Brazil accounts for just 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Marcio Astrini, who heads the Climate Observatory, an environmental protection organization in Brazil, cautioned this week that Mr. Bolsonaro “wants new money with no real constraints,” adding, “This is not a trustworthy government.”

Steam billowing from a coal plant in Utah in 2019. The International Energy Agency said on Tuesday that coal demand was set to soar this year.
Credit…Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

One of the most dissected speeches at the virtual climate summit hosted by President Biden on Thursday and Friday will be the one by his counterpart from China, Xi Jinping.

That is because China is currently the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and the biggest consumer of the single-biggest source of emissions: coal.

China continues to build new coal plants at home and abroad, part of a global trend that threatens to undermine the world’s chances of slowing down climate change.




+80 gigawatts of coal power

China continues to build more new coal power plants than it retires. In 2020, it added more coal capacity than was retired worldwide.
Outside of China, countries adding the most new coal power capacity include India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Coal plant retirements are largely happening in the United States and Europe.

China continues to build more new coal power plants than it retires. In 2020, it added more coal capacity than was retired worldwide.

+80 gigawatts of coal power

Outside of China, countries adding the most new coal power capacity include India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Coal plant retirements are largely happening in the United States and Europe.

China continues to build more new coal power plants than it retires. In 2020, it added more coal capacity than was retired worldwide.

+80 gigawatts of coal power

Outside of China, countries adding the most new coal power capacity include India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Coal plant retirements are largely happening in the United States and Europe.

+80 gigawatts of coal power

China continues to build more new coal power plants than it retires. In 2020, it added more coal capacity than was retired worldwide.

+80 gigawatts of coal power

Outside of China, countries adding the most new coal power capacity include India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Coal plant retirements are largely happening in the United States and Europe.

China continues to build more new coal power plants than it retires. In 2020, it added more coal capacity than was retired worldwide.
+80 gigawatts of coal power

+80 gigawatts of coal power

Outside of China, countries adding the most new coal power capacity include India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Coal plant retirements are largely happening in the United States and Europe.

China continues to build more new coal power plants than it retires. In 2020, it added more coal capacity than was retired worldwide.
+80 gigawatts of coal power

+80 gigawatts of coal power

Outside of China, countries adding the most new coal power capacity include India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Coal plant retirements are largely happening in the United States and Europe.

China continues to build more new coal power plants than it retires. In 2020, it added more coal capacity than was retired worldwide.
+80 gigawatts of coal power
Outside of China, countries adding the most new coal power capacity include India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Coal plant retirements are largely happening in the United States and Europe.


In 2020, China added more coal capacity than the rest of the world retired. India and Southeast Asia are also expanding their coal fleets, though neither as fast as they were a few years ago.

The International Energy Agency said on Tuesday that coal demand was set to soar this year. That’s bad for air pollution in the areas where coal is burned and mined. It also makes it harder to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030.

The agency’s chief, Fatih Birol, called those findings “a dire warning.”

Senator Tim Scott was chosen to deliver the G.O.P. rebuttal by the party’s top leaders.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, a leading Black conservative and rising Republican star, will deliver his party’s formal rebuttal to President Biden’s joint address to Congress next week.

Mr. Scott was chosen for the task by his party’s top congressional leaders, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, at a time when Republicans are seeking to expand their appeal to nonwhite groups that have traditionally voted Democratic. In a party still divided over the legacy of former President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Scott is also a rare figure able to unite competing factions.

“He is one of the most inspiring and unifying leaders in our nation,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement announcing the decision on Thursday. “As Senator Scott likes to say, he is living his mother’s American dream, and he has dedicated his career to creating more opportunity for our fellow citizens who need it most. Nobody is better at communicating why far-left policies fail working Americans.”

Mr. Biden is expected to use much of his address, his first before Congress since being inaugurated, to build public support for his multi-trillion-dollar jobs and infrastructure plans. Republicans fiercely oppose the proposals as too expensive and too intrusive, and it will be up to Mr. Scott to make their case.

In his own statement, Mr. Scott said he would deliver an “optimistic vision” for the country focused on economic growth and “empowering working families.”

The task is a notoriously difficult one, with a nationally televised format that often results in stilted remarks or memorable gaffes. But it has also helped build national prominence for up-and-coming politicians in both parties, including Mr. Biden when he still served in the Senate decades ago. (Mr. Scott also had a prime speaking slot during the Republican National Convention last year.)

The senator, 55, has a remarkable personal story. He was raised by a single mother in Charleston, S.C., and blazed a trail through state politics in a party where most of the other members are white. He first won a seat in the House amid the Tea Party wave of 2010 and was appointed to the Senate three years later.

His work in Congress has focused primarily on economic development and tax issues. His plan to create opportunity zones to incentivize companies to invest in economically distressed areas became a centerpiece of Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax-cut bill.

Mr. Scott is arguably his party’s leading voice on matters of race. When the nation erupted in protest last summer after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer, it was Mr. Scott who stepped in to write a Republican proposal to push the nation’s police forces to weed out the use of excessive force and racial profiling in their ranks.

Senate Democrats pushing for a more aggressive federal intervention killed the bill at the time. But as he prepares for his speech next Wednesday, Mr. Scott is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have recently revived talks over a policing bill and are hoping to steer Congress toward a compromise measure.

Mr. Scott said on Wednesday that the two parties were “on the verge” of a compromise, though major political and ideological hurdles remained.

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House Lawmakers Approve D.C. Statehood Bill

The House passed legislation that would establish Washington, D.C., as the 51st state. The bill, approved in a 216-to-208 vote along party lines on Thursday, still faces obstacles in the Senate.

“Congress has a choice: It can continue to exclude D.C. residents from the democratic process, forcing them to watch from the sidelines as Congress votes on federal and D.C. laws. And to treat them, in the words of Frederick Douglass, as aliens, not citizens, but subjects end quote. Or it can live up to our nation’s founding principles, join the 54 percent of Americans, that is 54 percent, Mr. Speaker, and growing, who support D.C. statehood and pass H.R. 51.” “Let’s be clear what H.R. 51 is all about. It’s about Democrats adding two new progressive U.S. senators to push a radical agenda championed by ‘The Squad’ to reshape America into the socialist utopia they always talk about.” The real power grab is denying 712,000 taxpaying American citizens the right to vote. That’s the power grab. This isn’t about politics. It’s a fundamental voting and civil rights issue.” “Our founders got it right. This measure gets it wrong. If D.C. surrenders the special status of our federal district and instead becomes one of 51 equals, why should it enjoy all the benefits also being the federal district?” “On this vote, the yeas are 216, the nays are 208. The bill is passed.”

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The House passed legislation that would establish Washington, D.C., as the 51st state. The bill, approved in a 216-to-208 vote along party lines on Thursday, still faces obstacles in the Senate.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The House voted on Thursday to grant statehood to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., taking action on a long-held Democratic priority that has become a core element of the party’s push to expand voting rights and address racial inequity.

The legislation, approved 216 to 208, would establish a 51st state called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth — named in honor of Frederick Douglass, the Black emancipation and civil rights leader — while leaving the National Mall, Capitol Hill, the White House and some other federal property under congressional control.

The new state would have a single voting representative in the House and two senators representing more than 700,000 residents.

The House passed the statehood legislation last year over united G.O.P. opposition, but it died in the Senate, where Republicans who controlled the chamber at the time declined to consider it. On Thursday, Republicans opposed the legislation again, calling it a Democratic power grab.

Even with Democrats now in control of an evenly divided 50-50 Senate, prospects for the measure remain very much in doubt: Not every Senate Democrat has publicly endorsed the proposal, and at least 10 Republicans would likely be needed to support advancing it, while none have said they would.

“Congress is taking a significant step to enfranchise the people of D.C. and empower them to participate fully in our democracy,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said at a news conference on Wednesday. “We’re excited that we will pass it — we will celebrate — and we hope that the momentum will help it pass in the Senate so that the president can sign it into law.”

The White House confirmed this week that Mr. Biden supported statehood for the nation’s capital, with the Office of Management and Budget declaring in a statement that statehood would “make our union stronger and more just.”

Some statehood proponents have begun pushing for the stand-alone measure to be incorporated into sweeping legislation that would overhaul national elections, which Democrats have made a top priority.

The vote was part of a flurry of activity on Thursday on Capitol Hill, where the Senate passed legislation to combat hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Republicans in that chamber offered the outlines of their counteroffer to President Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure package.

An outdoor dining area being used as a shelter by the homeless in New York City’s Chinatown in December.
Credit…Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times

The Biden administration on Thursday withdrew a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would have allowed single-sex homeless shelters to exclude transgender people from facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

The rule was part of a broad, governmentwide effort by the Trump administration to impose restrictions on civil rights for transgender people, even after a Supreme Court ruling affirming protections for gay and transgender workers. President Biden had broadly exerted the power of his office to freeze or overturn some of those restrictions almost immediately after taking office.

“We are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity,” Marcia L. Fudge, the housing secretary, said of the rule withdrawal in a statement. “HUD is open for business for all.”

The action represented a stark change in policy at the housing department, which said under the Trump administration last year that the rule would allow shelters to base admissions on “biological sex,” adding that the rule change would accommodate the “religious beliefs of shelter providers.”

Ben Carson, the previous housing secretary, had also expressed concern earlier, in 2019, about “big, hairy men” gaining access to women’s shelters to abuse or attack women seeking protection.

“The current HUD rule permits any man, simply by asserting that his gender is female, to obtain access to women’s shelters and even precludes the shelter from asking for identification,” Mr. Carson had said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers last year.

The proposed rule change was criticized by civil rights groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign — which said the rule would mean transgender women, and even potentially other women mistaken as transgender, may be referred to shelters that also accommodate men, where they could face abuse or assault. Some women could lose access to shelters entirely, they added.

“By ending this discriminatory proposal for good, the department is righting a serious wrong,” said Dylan Waguespack, the director of public policy at True Colors United, which works on preventing homelessness among L.G.B.T. youth. “Whether it’s homeless shelters, sports or health care, supporting the safety and dignity of all young people is a central tenet to our society, regardless of who they are or who they love.”

Read More: Biden’s Intelligence Director Vows to Put Climate at ‘Center’ of Foreign Policy

2021-04-22 21:01:00

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