At Summit of the Americas, Biden seeks unity on climate change

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A previous version of this newsletter incorrectly said that Brazil was not a member of the Global Methane Pledge. The article has been corrected.

Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! Today we’re wondering what kind of pizza senators eat. 🍕 Goal first:

At Summit of the Americas, Biden seeks unity on climate change

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday will announce two initiatives at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles aimed at tackling climate change and boosting clean energy in a region often overlooked in US foreign policy.

The initiatives showcase the White House’s push to promote cooperation on climate change across the Western Hemisphere, even as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador skips the summit in a blow to Biden’s pleas for regional unity.

Harris will unveil the first initiative, dubbed the US-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, before meeting with Caribbean leaders on Thursday. The goal of the partnership is to “elevate US cooperation with Caribbean countries to support climate adaptation and strengthen energy security, while building the resilience of critical infrastructure and local economies to the climate crisis,” according to a White House fact sheet.

The second major program, dubbed the Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean initiative, calls for reaching 70 percent installed capacity for renewable energy generation in the region’s electricity sector by 2030. Five new countries — Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Argentina and Brazil — will announce their intent to participate on Thursday, joining 15 existing members.

In addition, the administration will work with regional development banks to unlock financing for clean energy projects in these countries. And as part of the Amazonia Connect program, the United States will provide $12 million to support Brazil, Colombia and Peru in reducing commodity-driven deforestation.

“President Biden will affirm the US commitment to building an enduring hemispheric partnership to address climate change, create jobs and advance energy security,” a senior administration official said on a call with reporters Wednesday previewing the announcements.

The deforestation initiative comes as Biden is set to have an awkward first meeting Thursday with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaroa far-right populist who made campaign promises to open the Amazon to business development.

It also coincides with the disappearance of Dom Phillipsa British journalist who went missing in a remote region of the Amazon under threat from illegal loggers and miners.

When asked about Phillips, the senior administration official did not comment directly on the journalist but said the administration believes combating illegal deforestation is “a key part of our climate action agenda.”

Kerry touts progress on methane

Meanwhile, at the summit on Wednesday, US presidential envoy for climate John F. Kerry sought to highlight America’s role in cajoling other countries to curb emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In a short speech, Kerry heralded progress as part of the Global Methane Pledge led by the United States and the European Union, which calls for cutting emissions of the potent greenhouse gas by 30 percent by 2030.

A total of 118 nations have joined the pledge, up from 113 at last count, a Kerry spokeswoman confirmed to The Climate 202. The new additions are Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Kosovo, Namibia and Uzbekistan.

However, some of the world’s biggest methane emitters—including Russia, China, and India—have still not joined in the seven months since the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last fall.

Kerry came to Los Angeles with a message for these large emitters: It’s not too late to step up.

“Tiny islands in the Caribbean … [are] not the main contributor to the problem,” he said. “The main contributors to the problem are 20 countries; 20 countries equal 80 percent of all the emissions.”

Kerry concluded by warning that the war in Ukraine should not spur the construction of more fossil fuel infrastructure, which would threaten the more ambitious goal of the Paris agreement: limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.

“There are vested interests right now trying to exploit Ukraine and tell people we need a whole new generation of infrastructure built out that is going to kill 1.5, let alone 2 or 2.7,” he said. “We cannot allow that to happen.”

Biden administration proposes standards for electric vehicle charging network

The Transportation and Energy departments on Thursday proposed new standards to ensure that the nation’s electric vehicle charging network is reliable and accessible for all drivers, seeking to jump-start President Biden‘s goal of installing 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations by 2030.

The proposed rules, which would apply to new charging stations funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law, require each of the chargers to be fast chargers and no more than one mile off the highway, with 50 miles between them.

Each station must also be outfitted with adapters that have multiple heads, so that a variety of vehicles can charge at the same time, and must accept common payment methods, rather than ones that are specific to an individual automaker.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on a call with reporters Wednesday that while the proposed standards are an important step, the Biden administration is still pushing Congress to pass the electric vehicle tax credits that are stalled in the Senate.

“If we’re going to build out the infrastructure, like we haven’t done since the Eisenhower era, we have to build it right,” Granholm said. “And we have to get closer to a future where every American can save money by driving an EV, whether they live in a big city or in a rural area, and no matter what their income is.”

Energy announces $504 million loan guarantee for world’s largest hydrogen storage facility

Tea Energy Department on Wednesday announced that it closed on a $504.4 million loan guarantee for the Advanced Clean Energy Storage project in Utah, marking the first time the agency’s Loan Programs Office has made a loan guarantee for a new clean energy project since 2014.

The facility in Delta, Utah, is expected to create up to 400 construction jobs and 25 operations jobs. It will store green hydrogen, which is made using renewable energy, unlike blue hydrogen, which is made using natural gas.

“I’m pleased to see DOE support Utah’s efforts to become a world leader in hydrogen,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said in a statement that highlighted hydrogen’s bipartisan appeal on Capitol Hill. Romney added that the loan guarantee is an “important step toward developing new energy technologies as we utilize an ‘all of the above’ approach to meet our energy demands.”

During a call with reporters on Wednesday, Jigar Shah, head of the Loan Programs Office, said the agency is looking forward to several upcoming closings on additional projects. Without offering details, Shah said some of those projects might include nuclear, carbon sequestration, battery storage, graphite processing and hydrogen.

Biden wants to make an underwater canyon near New York City a marine sanctuary

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced that it plans to designate hudson canyonone of the largest underwater canyons in the world, as a new national marine sanctuary, a move that would grant it many of the same protections afforded to national parks, The Washington Post’s Anna Phillips reports.

If finalized, the decision to add the canyon to the National Marine Sanctuary System would advance the administration’s efforts to safeguard critical ecosystems that are threatened by climate change by conserving 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2030.

Hudson Canyon is about 100 miles off the coast of New York City. It is nearly 7.5 miles wide and more than two miles deep in some areas. It is home to hundreds of species, including endangered sperm whales, sea turtles and deep-sea corals.

Also on Wednesday, which marked World Oceans Daytea Interior Department said it will sign an order to phase out the sale of single-use plastic products in national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands by 2032. It’s an effort to limit the federal government’s contribution to the 14 million tons of plastic that wind up in the ocean each year.

EU parliament votes to ban sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035

Members of the European Parliament on Wednesday voted to ban the sale of new combustion engine cars by 2035, a measure that if approved by the European Council would represent one of the world’s most ambitious laws to move away from gas-guzzling vehicles, Angela Dewan reports for CNN.

The vote marks a key step for the world’s third-largest emitter as it tries to slash planet-warming pollution, but the measure must still be debated by the council and passed into law. Some lawmakers opposed the rule, calling instead for a 90 percent ban that would allow one-tenth of new car sales to remain conventional instead of electric.

Meanwhile, the parliament rejected three other climate proposals to establish a more ambitious emissions trading scheme, a carbon border tax and a social climate fund.

When big polluters pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050… 😂

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