Cop27: Joe Biden hails ‘new era of clean energy and economic growth’

US president seeks to reassert climate credentials at summit in Egypt

US president Joe Biden called or "vital progress" to be made at the Cop27 climate summit but fell short of committing to a loss and damage fund.

US president Joe Biden has underlined the role of the United States in driving unprecedented levels of climate action in an address to Cop27 in Egypt on Friday.

Bolstered by the inflation reduction act, the US was investing record amounts domestically on climate actions, he said in Sharm El-Sheik.

“This will unleash a new era of clean energy and economic growth,” Mr Biden predicted. “It’s going to spark a cycle of innovation to improve performance of clean energy technology that will be available to nations worldwide, not just in the US. It will accelerate decarbonisation beyond our borders. It will shift the paradigm from the US to the rest of the world.

“Let’s build on global climate progress. The science is devastatingly clear, we need to make vital progress by the end of this decade,” he said.


“The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security, and the very life of the planet,” Mr Biden said.

Countries in a position to help should be supporting developing countries “so they can make decisive climate decisions facilitating their energy transitions, build a path to prosperity compatible with our climate imperative”, he said.

“If we are to win this fight, we can no longer plead ignorance to consequence of actions and repeat our mistakes,” he said. “If we can accelerate actions on these game-changers, we can reach our goal. But to permanently bend [the] emissions curve, every nation must step up. The US has acted, everyone has to act, it’s a duty and responsibility of global leadership.”

The war in Ukraine made it more urgent to double down on climate commitments, Mr Biden said, calling on every country to align with targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“Russia’s war only enhances the urgency of the need to transition the world off its dependence on fossil fuels,” he added.

Cutting methane by at least 30 per cent by 2030 could be the best chance for the US to keep in reach of the 1.5 degree target, he said.

Indigenous activists from the US, calling on Mr Biden to stop pushing fossil fuel extraction, interrupted his address briefly and were removed from the conference hall.

His speech received frequent rounds of warm applause from the audience, however – notably when he apologised for the US leaving the Paris Agreement.

Mr Biden paid tribute to young people who campaign on the climate issue: “Young people feel the urgency of the climate crisis and feel it deeply. They won’t allow us to fail.”

He announced $100 million (€97 million) for adaptation programmes in Africa and, with the support of the EU, special funding of $500 million to help Egypt transition to clean energy.

Earlier US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told Cop27: “We have left incrementalism in the dust, this is about transformation,” adding that she hoped Cop27 would “help save the world for the children”.

The US, however, has had a difficult first week at Cop27 because of its position on the pivotal issue of loss and damage. Along with other big economies it has not committed to a permanent loss and damage facility to help climate-vulnerable countries.

“Joe Biden comes to Cop27 and makes new promises but his old promises have not even been fulfilled,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa.

“I’d rather have one apple in my hand than the promise of five that never come. Biden is throwing crumbs into lots of different pots. That might sound impressive but it’s not the help that is needed. We need straightforward funding that directly goes to communities and countries,” he said.

“He’s like a salesman selling goods with endless small print. Proper support comes in short words that are easily understandable, not a long list of caveats and explanations about which bizarre scheme they are throwing some scraps into.”

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times