“We’ve got to continue to play a vital role going forward,” the president said. “At this critical juncture, at the start of a decisive decade, I’d like to use this forum to forge a political momentum and consensus to drive concrete actions.”
The gathering, known as the Major Economies Forum, came ahead of a high-profile United Nations climate summit in the fall in Glasgow, Scotland, known as the COP 26. Biden was joined Friday by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Special Climate Envoy John F. Kerry in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
“We don’t have a lot of time,” Biden said. “So we have to act, all of us, and we have to act now.”
The virtual gathering came after Biden spent much of the week focused on climate change. He traveled to Boise, Idaho on Monday to visit the National Interagency Fire Center and then to Northern California to tour damage from wildfires. On Tuesday, he made the economic case for his climate-focused agenda.
“Disasters aren’t going to stop,” he said Tuesday. “That’s the nature of the climate threat. But we know what we have to do. We just need to summon the courage and the creativity to do it. Yes, we face a crisis. But we face a crisis with an unprecedented opportunity to create good jobs, to create industries of the future, to win the future, to save the planet.”
U.S. and European Union officials are asking other key nations to sign on to the Global Methane Pledge, which would reduce global methane emissions by about a third by 2030.
“We believe the collective goal is both ambitious but realistic,” Biden said. “And we urge you to join us in announcing this pledge at COP26.”
Methane, the world’s second-most prevalent greenhouse gas, comes from an array of sources, including fossil-fuel extraction, landfills, livestock and other agricultural waste. It vanishes relatively quickly from the atmosphere, but in the short term, it is about 85 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet.
As atmospheric concentrations of methane have continued to soar in recent years, international climate negotiators and scientists have focused more than ever on finding ways to rein in the powerful gas.
"No challenge will have a more significant impact on the world or require a greater level of international cooperation,” Blinken said. “And no challenge ranks higher on the list of global priorities for this administration."
A European official familiar with the discussions said this week that the E.U. and the United States recently reached the deal to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent below 2020 levels by the end of the decade. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door diplomatic talks, said the two sides are focused on convincing other countries to join the effort.
In April, Biden hosted more than 40 world leaders in a virtual two-day climate summit, a bid to restore the United States’ damaged diplomatic reputation and to rally nations around the globe to make deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
Brady Dennis, Michael Birnbaum and Steven Mufson contributed to this report.