US President Joe Biden said over the weekend that it was “not inconsistent” for him to push energy-producing nations to increase output of fossil fuels, while also urging countries to commit to an energy transition.
Biden spoke to reporters after days of challenging negotiations in Rome between leaders of the Group of 20 major economies.
He referred to “disappointment” with the lack of progress toward climate goals at the talks, which took place ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow which are now taking place.
At the talks, Biden also urged energy-producing countries with spare capacity to boost production to ensure a stronger global economic recovery as part of a broad effort to pressure OPEC and its partners to increase oil supply.
“It’s not at all inconsistent in that no one has anticipated that this year we would be in a position, or even next year, that we’re not going to use any more oil or gas,” Biden said.
For example, Biden said, the United States still needs gasoline even as it aims to have electric vehicles make up half of the vehicles on US roads by 2030.
“The idea we’re going to be able to move to renewable energy overnight and … from this moment on not use oil or not use gas or not use hydrogen, it’s just not rational,” Biden said.
His comments came as reports surfaced that Biden will try to assure world leaders that the United States can keep its promise to slash greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by the end of the decade, even as the key policies to ensure those reductions remain uncertain, his top climate aides said.
National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy said Biden was committed to delivering on that goal in large part through a key budget bill that would unleash $555 billion in climate spending that awaits a vote in Congress after months of fraught domestic negotiations.
“Here in Glasgow, he’s renewing the United States’ commitment to take swift and decisive action, including through his Build Back Better framework,” McCarthy told reporters.
The House of Representatives has not yet confirmed a date for a vote on the legislation.
Biden is also set to announce on 1 November a long-term strategy laying out how the US will achieve a longer-term goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and announce that he will work with Congress to launch a $3 billion program in 2024 aimed at helping developing countries adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change through locally-led measures.