> Key partner: United States
> Last updated: 05 September 2022Download PDF
The scale and speed of action needed in response to the profound climate crisis are daunting. Moving the world off a dangerous, potentially catastrophic climate trajectory requires significant global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and net-zero global emissions within 30 years. Climate considerations are an essential element of US foreign policy and national security. The United States intends to work bilaterally and multilaterally to support a sustainable global climate pathway and to move quickly to build resilience at home and abroad to the impacts of climate change.
One of President Biden’s first actions when he took office was to issue the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which provides vision, leadership and institutional mechanisms for the federal government to coherently address domestic, transboundary and long-term impacts of climate change and to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. The executive order puts the climate crisis at the forefront of US foreign policy and national security planning, setting forth the aims of building resilience at home and abroad to the impacts of climate change and working bilaterally and multilaterally to support a sustainable global climate pathway.
One aspect of the US approach involves assessing, disclosing and mitigating greenhouse gasses and climate-related risks in every sector of the economy. The White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy co-ordinates domestic climate policy issues, ensures consistency with the administration’s goals and monitors implementation. The National Climate Task Force facilitates the organisation and deployment of a government-wide approach to combat the climate crisis domestically. The National Security Council co-ordinates a government-wide approach to combating the climate crisis internationally, working in close co-operation with the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.
In June 2021, the United States and other Group of Seven members committed to end direct government support for unabated thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021 and to support developing countries in transitioning from coal, for example through the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa.
In its International Climate Finance Plan, the United States announced its intent to double its annual public climate financing to developing countries by 2024 relative to what it provided over 2013-16, which would amount to over USD 11 billion per year. To help developing countries build resilience to a changing climate, the president announced that this overall increase would include a six-fold increase in finance for adaptation, resulting in USD 3 billion in adaptation finance annually by FY 2024. The President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), launched at COP 26 in Glasgow, lays out a whole-of-government vision for how to ensure maximum impact of these investments.
In its 2022-30 Climate Strategy, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) commits to collaborate with partner countries to reduce, avoid or sequester 6 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent; conserve, restore or manage 100 million hectares with a climate mitigation benefit; enable improved climate resilience for 500 million people; and mobilise USD 150 billion in public and private finance for climate. The USAID plan for global action on climate equity includes improving participation and leadership in climate action of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and women and youth in at least 40 partner countries by 2030.
Close co-operation with Congress most recently paid off with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 that puts the United States in a strong position to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive and deliver on global climate pledges.
Policy coherence requires mainstreaming climate into broader institutional mechanisms and policies. The executive order on tackling the climate crisis is an important mechanism that provides an overarching, whole-of-government framework for addressing the domestic, transboundary and long-term impacts of climate change. Sustainable change will require that climate policies be mainstreamed into and aligned to other national priorities, underpinned by mechanisms to ensure effectiveness and accountability with these goals.
Close co-operation with the Congress can help accelerate climate action. As shown by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which provided historic levels of investments for improved transportation, energy and water infrastructure, close co-operation with the legislative branch can play a key role in accelerating climate action. This underscores the importance of continued efforts to work closely with the Congress, including broad, early and consistent outreach to legislators, on legislative actions that can help accelerate the administration’s policies and efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy will require sustained, targeted efforts and coherence across sectors and levels of government. While its 2030 domestic emissions reduction target is consistent with 1.5°C warming, in line with the Paris Agreement, accelerating progress towards these targets will require sustained, targeted efforts across government agencies at both the national and subnational levels and sectors of the economy.