UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday the world would have to wait to hear from US President Joe Biden about whether the country would pay its fair share in climate finance — funds for undeveloped nations to face the climate crisis.
Johnson and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres held a closed-door meeting of world leaders Monday morning during the UN General Assembly in New York, during which Johnson urged other nations to pledge more money towards supporting developing nations move away from fossil fuels.
“I think that we’ve been here before,” Johnson told reporters after the meeting, when asked if he expected the US and other countries to pay their fair share. “We’ve all heard lots of pledges, lots of positive noises. Let’s see where we get to. We’re not counting our chickens.”
Biden is expected to address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Biden did not attend Johnson’s Monday meeting, though his climate envoy John Kerry was in attendance.
Johnson said he, Kerry, Guterres and others heard from representatives of developing nations most impacted by climate, including the Marshall Islands, Costa Rica and others.
“We heard some promising commitments from our friends in Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and others in the EU,” Johnson said, “but the United States is crucially important.”
Getting a commitment from Biden would “make a huge difference” and “send a massively powerful signal to the world,” Johnson added.
White House officials did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on whether Biden would announce new climate financing commitments during his Tuesday speech.
World leaders from the developed world agreed more than a decade ago — and reaffirmed in the 2015 Paris Agreement — to begin transferring $100 billion to the Global South every year by 2020, a goal that was missed. The US was also criticized for failing to transfer any money under the Trump administration.
The Biden administration has said it will double the amount transferred during the second term of the Obama government, which averaged at around $2.8 billion a year. By comparison, the European Union transfers around €25 billion a year (the equivalent of $29.3 billion).
Kerry told Sky News on Monday that the US would get its climate financing commitment “done” by November’s pivotal international climate summit in Glasgow, also known as COP26.
“I think we’re going to get it done by COP, and the United States will do its part,” Kerry said. “I’m not hoping, I’m telling you to stay tuned to the president’s speech, and we’ll see where we are.”
In a press call with reporters last week, a senior Biden administration official didn’t commit to any specific numbers for climate finance.
The US “has heard from others around the world, the need for all of us to continue to increase our ambition on climate finance, and the US is taking a look at that,” a senior administration official told CNN during the press call.
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