Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are seen at a news conference on the launch of the American Climate Corps on September 20, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

US Lawmakers Tell Biden to 'Lead by Example' on Climate as COP28 Begins

Progressive members of Congress, including Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, urged the president to support a complete phaseout of fossil fuels.

Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday led a group of more than 30 U.S. lawmakers in calling on President Joe Biden to embrace a complete phaseout of fossil fuels and an immediate end to public financing of new overseas oil and gas projects as world leaders gathered for the first day of the COP28 summit in Dubai.

In a letter to the president, who decided to skip the talks, Markey (D-Mass.), Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and 32 other members of Congress wrote that the U.S. has a "duty" to pursue more ambitious climate goals and "support other countries in adopting the principles of environmental justice that we should also prioritize here at home."

"In order to remain on target for a livable future, we urge the administration to support the move toward an extensive, expedient, and equitable phaseout of fossil fuel production and consumption," the lawmakers wrote. "A full phaseout should be inclusive of coal, oil, and fossil gas, and led by the wealthiest and highest-emitting countries, including short-term phase-down goals and climate financing to assist developing countries in executing a clean energy transition."

The letter, spearheaded by the leaders of the congressional Green New Deal Resolution, was released after the COP28 talks opened with a deal to operationalize a loss and damage fund geared toward helping low-income nations recover from the increasingly devastating climate impacts they've faced in recent years, despite doing the least to cause the planetary crisis.

The Biden administration, representing the country that is the largest historical emitter of planet-warming carbon dioxide, pledged just $17.5 million to the loss and damage fund, a sum that one campaigner called "embarrassing."

As Common Dreams reported, the administration also drew outrage by launching an oil and gas drilling auction just days before the start of the United Nations climate summit.

In a social media post Thursday, Markey called on the Biden administration to "lead by example and take bold action to end this climate emergency."

The Biden administration has thus far rejected calls to support a full phaseout of fossil fuels, allowing U.S. oil and gas extraction to surge to record levels despite increasingly dire warnings from the scientific community.

The administration has also repeatedly broken its commitment to end direct public financing for international fossil fuel projects.

In a briefing on the eve of COP28, Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry told reporters that the administration supports "requiring the phaseout of unabated fossil fuel."

As Bloomberg's Lara Williams recently warned, the ambiguity of "unabated"—expected to be a hot-button term during the COP28 talks—"leaves an enormous loophole for the continued expansion of fossil fuel production under the vague promise that all will be abated in the future."

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