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Biden admin will put climate crisis at centre of its foreign policy and national security: Blinken

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Annapolis: The Biden administration will put the climate crisis at the centre of its foreign policy and national security, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken said here, asserting that American diplomats will challenge the practices of countries whose action or inaction is setting the world back.

In a major foreign policy speech at the picturesque Chesapeake Bay Foundation here, Blinken gave details of how the state department will leverage the US foreign policy to deliver for the American people on climate.

“We’ll put the climate crisis at the centre of our foreign policy and national security, as President Biden instructed us to do in his first week in office.  That means taking into account how every bilateral and multilateral engagement – every policy decision – will impact our goal of putting the world on a safer, more sustainable path. It also means ensuring our diplomats have the training and skills to elevate climate in our relationships around the globe,” Blinken said.

This, however, does not mean that countries can hide behind progress on climate for bad behaviour in other areas that are important to US national security.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is united on this: Climate is not a trading card – it’s our future,” he said.

“As other countries step up, the state department will mobilise resources, institutional know-how, technical expertise from across our government, the private sector, NGOs, and research universities to help them.”

“In the last few weeks alone, we announced new funding for clean energy entrepreneurship and more efficient renewable energy markets in Bangladesh and to help India’s small businesses invest in solar energy. These investments move us toward our climate goals and bring energy access to people who had never had it before,” he said.

Blinken said the US will emphasise on assisting countries being hit hardest by climate change, most of which lack the resources and capacity to handle its destabilising impacts.

Asserting that US embassies will lead on the ground, Blinken said they are already helping governments design and implement climate-smart policies, while looking for ways to draw on the unique strengths of America’s public and private sectors.

“We will use all the tools in our kit to make US clean energy innovators more competitive in the global market.”

“That includes leveraging instruments like financing provided by the Export-Import Bank to incentivise renewable energy exports; the proposed expansion of tax credits for clean energy generation and storage in the president’s American jobs plan; and the administration’s ongoing efforts to level the global playing field for American-made products and services,” he said.

American diplomats, he said, will challenge the practices of countries whose action or inaction is setting the world back.

When countries continue to rely on coal for a significant amount of their energy, or invest in new coal factories, or allow for massive deforestation, they will hear from the United States and our partners about how harmful these actions are, he warned.

“And finally, we’ll seize every chance we get to raise these issues with our allies and partners, and through multilateral institutions. At NATO, for example, there is consensus that we need to adapt our military readiness for the inevitability of climate change and reduce the reliance of the Allies’ forces on fossil fuels, which is both a vulnerability and a major source of pollution,” he said.

“We will convey a strong message to the meeting of the G7 next month, whose members produce a quarter of the world’s emissions. And I’ll also represent the United States at next month’s ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council, where I’ll reaffirm America’s commitment to meeting our climate goals and encourage other Arctic nations to do the same.”

“All of these efforts, at home and abroad, will allow us to lead from a position of strength when the world comes together in November for the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow,” he said.

Blinken said that the Biden-Harris administration will do more than any in history to meet the climate crisis.

This is already an all-hands-on-deck effort across the government and across the nation.

“Our future depends on the choices we make today,” he said.

“If America fails to lead the world on addressing the climate crisis, we won’t have much of a world left. If we succeed, we will capitalise on the greatest opportunity to create quality jobs in generations; we’ll build a more equitable, healthy, and sustainable society; and we’ll protect this magnificent planet. That’s the test we face right now,” Blinken said.

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