Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials Previewing the President's Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate
MODERATOR: Thank you. And good evening, everyone. Apologies that we're running a little behind, but we just want to welcome you to our call that will preview the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate leaders' meeting that the President will host tomorrow, Friday, June 17th, at 8:30 p.m. [a.m.] D.C. time.
As a reminder, this call is on background, attributable to a "senior administration official" and is embargoed until tomorrow, June 17th, at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.
For your awareness, not for your reporting, the senior administration officials on this call are [senior administration official], [senior administration official], and [senior administration official].
With that, I will pass it off to [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hey, thanks. Thanks, everybody, for joining.
As you know, you know, the President has been really laser-focused on driving forward an agenda and actions that help strengthen our energy security, that helps strengthen our response to the climate crisis. And we're eager to be able to leverage a lot of what he's been able to do here stateside into momentum all around the world. And you will hear from [senior administration official] and from [senior administration official] about that important diplomacy and how it's really helped broaden -- bring together a broad coalition around taking action that meets the urgency of this moment.
You know, what you'll see from the President tomorrow is a set of announcements and action in a few key sectors that help us respond to the challenges that we face in this moment -- whether they are energy security challenges or food security challenges and, certainly, the challenge of climate change.
You know, in the energy sector, we've been really aggressive as an administration pushing forward on driving down methane emissions. You saw it in legislation that the President was able to secure last summer. You saw it in the domestic methane emissions reduction plan: 40 actions, including both regulatory and investment initiatives, led by the President. And you've seen it in his push to build out new technologies like carbon capture and advanced nuclear and clean hydrogen.
Just as an example, last week, you know, the administration rolled out the first step in implementing $8 billion of Clean Hydrogen Hub funding across the country, seeding these new regional ecosystems to hasten the deployment of this technology.
We issued the first loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to build the largest clean hydrogen storage facility in the United States in Utah. And the President invoked his authority under the Defense Production Act to spur the development of manufacturing capability here in the United States of electrolyzers that will help produce that clean hydrogen.
So we're seeing that momentum in the power sector. We're seeing that momentum in the transportation sector where, you know, the President set this ambitious goal of achieving 50 percent zero-emission vehicle sales of all new cars in 2030. You know, when he did that, it was pathbreaking to be able to bring together the U.S. automakers and U.S. autoworkers.
And we've seen private capital rapidly come off the sidelines in the service of that objective here stateside. Over $100 billion of capital now committed and moving in the direction of advancing zero-emission vehicles and a lower carbon transportation sector here in the United States.
And he's been inventive and aggressive in pushing forward progress in the agricultural sector, as well, in the way we approach lands. You'll remember him talking about cover crops -- probably the first mention in a joint address before Congress -- about the potential that the agricultural sector has to play a critical role in advancing climate solutions, but also in advancing food security around the world.
And we're grateful to see that domestic momentum, that action be catalytic and be a spur for action around the world, a playbook that can get leveraged and re-leveraged by our allies and partners.
And, of course, none of that happens passively. Folks, don't just, you know, pick up the newspaper, read about the stuff happening in the United States and then go decide to do it. It comes through just incredible focus on meeting folks where they are on advancing that diplomacy and on that presidential leadership and the leadership by Secretary Kerry in those international fora. And tomorrow is a great example of that sustained leadership.
And with that, will hand over to [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks so much, [senior administration official]. And thank you all for joining us this evening. Excited to give you a preview of what's going to come tomorrow.
President Biden will be reconvening the leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate for the third time during his presidency. This convening demonstrates the President's ongoing commitment to further accelerating climate action across a variety of key sectors.
At the meeting -- the virtual meeting -- the President will launch several collective efforts across energy, transportation, and agriculture sectors, which will advance not just climate, but also our energy and food security goals, and underscore how addressing climate and long-term energy security is mutually reinforcing objectives and priorities for us.
These actions are all the more urgent following Russia's further invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted energy markets, it strained economies with rising prices, and threatened vulnerable communities with severe food shortages.
Tomorrow's gathering will be the largest gathering of leaders devoted to climate action before COP27, taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh later this year. This further demonstrates how in the face of global crises, President Biden has continued to advance critical global priorities and strengthen our critical multilateral partnerships.
We expect the President to be joined by the major economies as well as countries key to the initiatives that we're launching tomorrow. We will share more about that, and I'll give you a quick preview of what that is.
We expect a number of countries to be announcing their intention to strengthen or announce their Paris-aligned Nationally Determined Contributions, the so-called NDCs. And I'll take a brief moment to share with you a few of the initiatives that will be launched tomorrow and then turn it back over to [moderator].
As I noted, these efforts span the sectors of energy, transportation, and agriculture, in line with our sectoral whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis that [senior administration official] did a great job of giving you a preview of.
On the energy space, we're going to be building on the success of the Global Methane Pledge that the United States and the European launched at COP26. And we'll be launching the Global Methane Pledge Energy Pathway to further advance global climate progress.
This GMP Energy Pathway focuses on cost-effective methane mitigation in the oil and gas sector, as well as eliminate -- as well as on eliminating routine gas flaring.
Countries who join us will provide new technical and financial resources to support this effort or enhance domestic action in line with these goals, or both. This initiative will bring together some of the most significant global gas producers and consumers in the world.
The second initiative focuses on developing and scaling innovative clean technologies that aren't yet commercially available but which we know will be required to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The International Energy Agency has identified at least $90 billion in public investments will be needed for large-scale demonstration projects to support these technologies. And tomorrow, the President will challenge fellow leaders to join him in a collective goal to reach that $90 billion.
For our part, the United States is going to be devoting $21.5 [billion] under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to just those types of high-priority projects.
Moving to the transportation sector, we will again be building on the President's leadership at home and looking at the importance of zero-emission vehicles -- so-called "ZEVs" -- to meeting our climate goals.
Last year, the President signed an executive order setting an ambitious target to make half of all new light-duty vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric, fuel cell electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
So, tomorrow, he will invite leaders to join him in a collective goal of 50 percent ZEVs by 2030. This will not only reduce emissions in the transport sector, but also expand markets for a wide variety of ZEVs and help speed a global transformation in the automotive sector.
We're also focusing on the shipping sector, which is a significant source of emissions. If shipping were a country, it would be the eighth -- the world's eighth-largest emitter.
Building on significant announcements at COP26 last year, as well as the President's leadership on green shipping corridors and other such -- other forums such as the Quad, the United States and Norway are announcing the launch of a Green Shipping Challenge for COP27. This will encourage actors across the shipping value chain, from government to ports and cargo owners, to come forward with concrete steps that will move the sector forward towards full decarbonization.
Finally, we will directly address the devastating effects that Russia's further invasion of Ukraine has had on the global food system. Our new Global Fertilizer Challenge will increase the adoption of innovative, alternative, and efficient fertilizer, reducing agricultural emissions while bolstering food security.
Through these initiatives, President Biden is continuing his consistent engagement with leaders while driving decisive global action to tackle the climate crisis and advancing global energy, food, and economic security.
So with that, I'll turn it back to [moderator].
MODERATOR: Thank you both for that. We really appreciate it. Nick, would you mind reminding folks how to cue up a question, please?
Q: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for doing this tonight. So, two things. Can we get a list of the countries invited? I'm wondering if President Xi of China is going to be there or if it's just going to be his climate envoy or minister.
Secondly, can you clarify -- I mean, are there -- are other countries planning to announce that they too will pick up this 50 percent ZEVs by 2030 target as well? Or is this just something on the U.S. end that the President will ask other countries to join?
I guess, finally, if I can get -- I'm just going to add a third one in here. You know, the bond discussions just wrapped up. Developing countries are bitterly disappointed that they couldn't even get on an agenda to discuss funding for loss and damage. Is that just going to be ignored at this meeting of leaders? Is that going -- is what is owed to developing and vulnerable countries going to come up at all?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you, Lisa. So, I guess you are recording this, so we will -- I will read off the list of which countries we expect to be attending tomorrow. We have 23 participants that will be attending that represent the major economies, as well as a select group of countries who are announcing new climate ambition or joining one of the five international initiatives that I had previewed here.
So here are the participants/countries: Argentina, Australia, Chile, China, Canada, the European Union as represented by the European Council and the European Commission, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Norway, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Egypt, and France.
And to your question about China, Secretary Kerry's counterpart will be representing China at tomorrow's meeting.
And then regarding if countries are joining any of these five initiatives: Given the embargo for this call lifts prior to the Major Economies Forum, we're not in a position to specify which countries and what these leader -- what their leaders will announce tomorrow. Again, this is a conversation we'll be having with those leaders. We've, you know, asked them to come join and step up to this challenge with us.
But to ensure the information gets to you as quickly as possible, we will be releasing a short readout -- or it's a factsheet. I could share a summary of the meeting afterwards that will actually list which countries have joined these initial calls to action and pledges which we continue to harvest throughout this year on the road to Sharm el-Sheikh and then to deliver at COP27 or at the Department-of-Energy-hosted meeting in Pittsburgh.
On the issue of assisting countries to cope with the climate impact, this is really a meeting, again, among the major economies focused around the mitigation actions that they need to be taking. And it will (inaudible).
But it is really -- but we will be, actually, announcing an initiative and a partnership between President Biden and President Al Sisi, the Egyptian president. We'll be announcing their collaboration on an Adaptation in Africa event. So that'll be one thing that -- one thing we want to be highlighting because we've invited Egypt. As you know, it's not a major economy, but they are the COP27 presidency.
I should also note we've also invited the U.N. Secretary General as another participant in tomorrow's meeting.
We've always known that keeping pressure on, ensuring mitigation is done by the major economies is a key pathway to working with other countries around adaptation issues.
Q: Thanks for doing the call and taking my questions. Given [senior administration official]'s commitment -- comment, rather, about the embargo and the timing of the MEF, you may not be able to address all this, but I'm wondering how many countries are joining the GMP Energy Pathway? Maybe this is something [senior administration official] can address as well.
And then can you specify some of the commitments they're making? For example, by what date must they end routine flaring? What kind of technical and financial resources must they commit?
And on the shipping challenge, can you speak to some of the benchmarks in that shipping challenge that's being announced?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You're absolutely right that I cannot say which countries. We're going to let our leaders be able to share that news tomorrow.
But I will turn it over to [senior administration official] to share a bit more color to the Global Methane Pledge Energy Pathway.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, [senior administration official], and thanks for the question.
First, just as context, the IEA put out a report for this MEF entitled "The Energy Security Case for Tackling Gas Flaring and Methane Leaks" that they just put out. And it really summarizes how important it is for this work to happen, including with action on oil and gas methane alone, we can eliminate 0.1 degrees centigrade of warming by mid-century.
And so this Global Methane Pledge Energy Pathway puts to work nearly $60 million in dedicated funding to get the technical assessments done to mobilize the billions in investment that are needed to cut oil and gas flaring, venting, and leakage.
And the IEA report also makes clear that the amount of gas that the world flares or leaks or vents every year is equal to the annual output of the world's third-largest natural gas producer. So, there's a big energy security benefit from addressing this climate opportunity as well.
And in terms of the membership in the Global Methane Pledge, the inaugural members are 10 countries; that includes some of the world's biggest producers. You're going to see that they represent about half of -- sorry, about two fifths of global gas production. And they also are major importers that represent about half of global natural gas imports.
And you're also going to see as part of the announcement that there's important steps being taken by countries like Mexico in order to address these opportunities -- both the climate and the energy security opportunity -- from cutting this waste of natural gas in oil and gas systems.
And on the shipping challenge, I don't know -- I'm sorry, what was the question on the shipping challenge? Or do you want to handle that, [senior administration official]?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think, Jen, that the question was: What are the types of examples of things that are part of the shipping challenge? Is that accurate?
Q: Yeah. The benchmarks, the milestones, the commitments.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So this is the shipping challenge we're launching tomorrow with the Norwegians.
[Senior administration official], do you want to go into that? I could also list out some of the examples.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Go ahead, [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So, we are really focusing on encouraging the governments, ports, maritime carriers, cargo owners, and others to put forward concrete steps to help the shipping sector on a credible step towards full decarbonization no later than 2050. And we want to work together on things such as zero-emission fuel, zero-emission bunkering and recharging capabilities, deploying low- or zero-emissions vessels, and providing and creating the technical support and financial support for green shipping corridors.
As you saw, the President, when he was in the Indo-Pacific during the Quad, we had the Green Shipping Task Force that's launched by our Quad ministers. And that's another area for further progress to help build into -- to help develop what exactly the specific -- which ports will be green corridors.
It's really about bringing together key shipping states to start to build out what the corridor will look like, who's signing up to a corridor, and what actually will transit that corridor.
I'd also refer you to Secretary Kerry. We've launched a Green Shipping Corridors principle, which is a really important first step of laying out what are key elements to actually get down the path of a corridor. And we thought that was a really necessary first step.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And if I may, just to take us back to methane just really quickly, I -- you know, I think this is a great example where the President has been able to sort of leverage and reinforce progress both in the international forum and domestically, and, sort of, toggle between the two in a way that has accelerated progress.
You know, the issue around venting and flaring really, you know, from day one -- you look at the day-one executive order that the President issued. The methane rulemaking effort was kicked off in that executive order. And from day one, including at the Leaders' Summit in April, within the first 100 days, this was a topic that was on the table, and the President was making progress diplomatically. It was a topic even in that sort of first bilateral engagement with the Canadians just weeks within the formation of the administration.
So I think that's a great example of it. And I think it's also a great example where the President has been able to build this really broad coalition politically, with investments being unleashed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to cut leaks from midstream operations, help support some of the critical innovation in this space.
And so I think, just -- I think -- really demonstrative of his ability to, from day one, be pushing on something, to [senior administration official]'s point, that unlocks important energy security benefits and is really, really meaningful when we think about bending the curve on the climate math that we face in this decisive decade.
Q: Thank you so much for doing this call. I wanted to go back to China and also to the previous question about the Bonn Conference.
Can you just speak directly to the relationship -- you know, how you see this relationship unfolding with China at this moment where there's so much tension around other issues? Do you see Beijing as being a productive player in this process?
And could you reflect on the impact that the Ukraine war has had on all of these efforts? Is it accelerating these efforts? Is it complicating these efforts? Just to, you know, sort of step back a little bit. Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you so much. This horrible war in Ukraine and Russia's furthering aggression has presented a moment of a doubling down, if you will, towards accelerating our actions on decarbonizing transportation and other sectors, looking at efficiency of fertilizer, and on many of our objectives that provide greater energy security.
This moment in time has really been a moment for -- for at least us with the United States, and as you'll see from this meeting tomorrow -- it's an important moment for us to, frankly, double down on all of these areas that provide greater efficiency, that underscore the importance of clean and renewable and the climate-aligned energy transition, rather than a global energy system that's reliant on volatile fossil fuel markets.
And so that's really been one of the -- I would never say a "bright lining," because it is a terrible tragedy that is unfolding. But I will say it's been one that is definitely highlighted and shone a very bright light on where the solutions are and what it takes to get there.
It's going to take ambition. It's going to take collective action among countries to rise to the challenge, to lean further into the energy transition and accelerate it.
As [senior administration official] mentioned, it's these investments in R&D, it's this investment in technologies that are deployable today -- it was part of why the President created the -- his U.S.-EU Energy Security Task Force that he launched with President von der Leyen in March.
It was a task force really focused about: How do you reduce gas demand in Europe ahead of this winter, ahead of next winter? How do you diversify Europe away from Russian fuels and to a more diversified set of actors?
So that's part of what has been going into this meeting with leaders coming together. It's talking through what are the steps and concrete steps and actions we're going to take to lean into electric vehicles and zero-emission vehicles; to move us away from a single-source fossil fuel; ways to, obviously, work on methane.
And then in agriculture, this global call to action on looking at alternatives to certain types of fertilizer to ensure that we are able to grow food -- grow more food with less inputs to make it more efficient and more productive.
So, I'll pause there.
On the issue of China, climate is still an area where we continue to cooperate with China. And Secretary -- Special Envoy Kerry, I'll let [senior administration official] speak further to their engagements with their Chinese counterparts.
But again, in a moment like this global -- where there's global crises, it's a time to come together on cooperation. And we're really using tomorrow's meeting -- as you watch, it is world leaders coming together, convened by President Biden, to discuss how important their actions are on climate ambition in this pivotal time as we get on the road to Sharm el-Sheikh.
So, with that, let me turn it over to [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, [senior administration official]. Special Envoy Kerry -- Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry has met with his counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, multiple times in the last month. And work is intensifying on the U.S.-China Glasgow Declaration. And we are committed to working with them on topics like their plan to address methane emissions in China for the first time.
Of course, as with all things, China is the biggest emitter of methane in the world. And so, it is crucial that, for the first time, they committed to address methane pollution through this action plan focused on reductions in the 2020s of methane in the Chinese economy and throughout the different sectors of the Chinese economy. And so, we're working with him on that.
And we're also, of course, engaging on other topics, including the energy transition and illegal deforestation with China. So, more to come on that front. And it is a top priority, given that China is 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and that their nationally-determined contribution under the Paris Agreement doesn't yet actually address all greenhouse gases.
So, important that we continue to engage with the world on what is now going to be 120 countries that have joined the Global Methane Pledge, collectively committed to cut emissions at least 30 percent by 2030, which is the minimum we need to do to keep a safer 1.5 degrees centigrade future within reach.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been very clear on that point. We have to not only address global energy transition, but also tackle methane and other gases, like HFCs, in order to succeed, and we need China to deliver on its methane plan and address all greenhouse gases as part of our engagement with them.
MODERATOR: Great. Thank you again to our speakers and for all of you for joining us tonight.
As a reminder, this call is embargoed until tomorrow, Friday, June 17th at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.
Joseph R. Biden, Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials Previewing the President's Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/356512