Biden, G-7 leaders agree to end public support of coal industry

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President Biden agreed Saturday with other leaders at the Group of Seven wealthiest democracies to end government support of coal generation for power by the end of this year, saying the accelerated action is needed to address climate change.

At their meeting in Carbis Bay, England, the president and his G-7 counterparts committed to spend $2 billion collectively on a new “Industrial Decarbonization Agenda” to speed up “decarbonization technology, and harmonize standards,” the White House said. 

The leaders also agreed to focus on reducing carbon emissions in the sectors of power, transport, agriculture and buildings.

A recent analysis showed the G-7 countries – the U.S, U.K., Canada, Italy, France, Germany and Japan – spent $189 billion to support oil, coal, and gas since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. mined 706 million tons of coal in 2019, down 7% from the previous year and the lowest total since 1978. The Trump administration sought to revive the domestic coal industry.

The White House said the G-7’s actions on coal are “consistent with President Biden’s domestic leadership.”

It said the leaders at the summit recognize that “unabated coal power generation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions globally.”

Also on Saturday, Mr. Biden urged his counterparts to take a united stand against China’s use of forced labor and to commit the G-7 to a global infrastructure initiative to compete with Beijing’s “Belt and Road” program begun in 2013.

The G-7 leaders hope their plan, known as the Build Back Better World initiative, will help to narrow the $40 trillion needed by developing nations by 2035, the White House said.

“This is not just about confronting or taking on China,” a senior Biden administration said. “But until now we haven’t offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and our way of doing business.”

There was uncertainty on Saturday whether the leaders’ final joint statement at the summit would take on China directly.

Mr. Biden sounded pleased with the meetings so far on his first overseas trip.

“The sun is shining, we’re on this beach, I’m well,” the president told reporters. “And I’m with the president of France, that makes me even feel better.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had his differences with Mr. Trump, said the U.S. is “definitely” back on the world stage.

“We have to deal with this pandemic, COVID-19…climate change,” Mr. Macron said. “For all these issues, what we need is cooperation. And I think it’s great to have a U.S. president part of the club, and very willing to cooperate. And I think that what you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership.”

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