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Biden’s climate summit zeroes in on clean technology to cut down global warming

Published: Updated:

The US energy secretary told President Joe Biden’s climate summit that clean technology is “our generation’s moonshot” on Friday, the second and final day of an event that is seeking to rally world ambition to reduce global warming.

Biden called the meeting with dozens of heads of state to declare the United States back at the climate leadership table after his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, withdrew from the Paris agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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The Democratic president, who returned the United States to the Paris pact, announced a new U.S. target on Thursday to reduce its emissions 50 percent-52 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Japan and Canada also raised their targets.

Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s energy secretary, said her department would be announcing new goals for “leaps in next generation technologies”, such as carbon capture and storage, energy storage and industrial fuels.

Bill Gates, a wealthy businessman-turned-philanthropist, said he was working with partners on a program called Breakthrough Energy Catalyst that will raise money from governments, philanthropists, and companies to make capital investments to bring down the cost of clean technology.

“We can build new industries and companies that support communities around the world with good jobs on making the transition to the clean economy,” said Gates, who has invested about $2 billion toward the development of high tech electricity generation and storage.

The White House has sought to assure other countries that it can meet the new emissions target, even if a new administration takes over, because industry is moving toward cleaner power, electric vehicles, and more renewable energy anyway.

“No politician, no matter how demagogic or how potent and capable they are, is going to be able to change what that market is doing,” said John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy.

Biden has sought to connect efforts to fight climate change with opportunities to create jobs, arguing that taking action will be good for the economy in order to counter Republican concerns that climate regulation could slow growth.

His $2.3 trillion infrastructure package is integral to achieving the new US emissions target, but requires approval by Congress, where Democrats hold only razor-thin majorities.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo are all scheduled to take part in Friday’s conference.

Foreign leaders including Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phucare are also slated to join.

Read more: Pope warns Earth heading for self-destruction without action by political leaders