President Biden is set to host a climate change summit Friday morning that is expected to draw pledges from the United States, Europe and a number of countries to slash their use of methane, a potent planet-warming greenhouse gas, according to environmental groups.
The White House meeting, which is called the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, will be held virtually starting at 8:30 a.m. It comes less than two months before a pivotal United Nations conference in Glasgow where nearly 200 nations are expected to announce more ambitious emissions-cutting targets than they had previously set in order to keep the world from overheating.
Mr. Biden sent a letter to leaders of some of the top-polluting nations this month inviting them to the forum and stressing that it was incumbent upon the world’s biggest economic powers to take the lead in keeping global temperatures from rising to catastrophic levels. Scientists have set that guardrail at below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.
“As leaders of the world’s major economies, we must ensure that our efforts during this critical decade are swift and bold enough to keep the goal of holding temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach,” Mr. Biden wrote in a letter to the president of Argentina that was posted on an Argentine government website.
The United States under Mr. Biden has pledged to cut emissions 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Yet legislation to make that promise a reality faces trouble in Congress. Other major emitters like China and India have yet to put forward new targets.
In addition to prodding nations to set tough new targets, Mr. Biden will also invite countries to join a global pledge of cutting methane 30 percent by 2030. Methane, which is the main component of natural gas, is the second most powerful greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.
Environmental advocates said they were optimistic a number of countries would agree to that benchmark, calling it a potentially significant step in curbing climate change. While methane has a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it is, per unit, more than 20 times as potent at warming the planet.
“Slashing methane emissions is the most important action countries can take to slow global warming in the next few decades,” said Nathaniel Keohane, the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
The United States is also likely to face pressure at the forum to boost its funding to help developing countries pivot to cleaner energy and cope with the consequences of climate change. In April, the Biden administration pledged to deliver $5.7 billion annually by 2024.
Jake Schmidt, a senior strategic director for international climate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, noted that the European Union contributed more than $25 billion annually to help the world’s poorer nations address climate change. He called on Mr. Biden to allocate at least $12 billion annually by 2024 ahead of the Glasgow summit.
“The U.S. needs to be bolder on climate finance if we are going to have a chance of success,” Mr. Schmidt said.
Under the Obama administration, the Major Economies Forum typically drew the world’s largest emitters, including the European Union, China, India and Australia, as well as a smattering of other nations that have been pivotal in the global negotiations.
As of late Thursday night, the White House declined to say which countries had accepted Mr. Biden’s invitation.