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Biden invites Russia, China to first global climate talks

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is including rivals Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China among the invitees to the first big climate talks of his administration, an event the U.S. hopes will help shape, speed up and deepen global efforts to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuel pollution, administration officials told The Associated Press.

The president is seeking to revive a U.S.-convened forum of the world’s major economies on climate that George W. Bush and Barack Obama both used and Donald Trump let languish. Leaders of some of the world’s top climate-change sufferers, do-gooders and backsliders round out the rest of the 40 invitations being delivered Friday. It will be held virtually April 22 and 23.

Hosting the summit will fulfill a campaign pledge and executive order by Biden, and the administration is timing the event to coincide with its own upcoming announcement of what will be a much tougher U.S. target for revamping the U.S. economy to sharply cut emissions from coal, natural gas and oil.

President Joe Biden seeks to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is the world’s top emitter of climate-damaging pollution.
President Joe Biden seeks to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is the world’s top emitter of climate-damaging pollution.
Zhang Ling/Xinhua via AP

The session – and whether it’s all talk, or some progress – will test Biden’s pledge to make climate change a priority among competing political, economic, policy and pandemic problems. It also will pose a very public — and potentially embarrassing or empowering — test of whether U.S. leaders, and Biden in particular, can still drive global decision-making after the Trump administration withdrew globally and shook up longstanding alliances.

The Biden administration intentionally looked beyond its international partners for the summit, reaching out to key leaders for what it said would sometimes be tough talks on climate matters, an administration official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. plans for the event.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush used to organize climate change forums.
Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush used to organize climate change forums.
Getty Images/Glowimages RF

Trump mocked the science underlying urgent warnings on global warming and the resulting worsening of droughts, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. He pulled the United States out of the 2015 U.N. Paris climate accords as one of his first actions. That makes next month’s summit the first major international climate discussions by a U.S. leader in more than four years, although leaders in Europe and elsewhere have kept up talks.

U.S. officials and some others give the Obama administration’s major-economies climate discussions some of the credit for laying the groundwork for the Paris accord. The United States and nearly 200 other governments at those talks each set targets for cutting their fossil-fuel emissions, and pledged to monitor and report their emissions. Another Biden administration official said the U.S. is still deciding how far the administration will go in setting a more ambitious U.S. emissions target.

A wind farm at Interstate 40 in Adrian, Texas.
A wind farm at Interstate 40 in Adrian, Texas.
Getty Images

The Biden administration hopes the stage provided by next month’s Earth Day climate summit — planned to be all virtual because of COVID-19 and publicly viewable on livestream, including breakout conversations — will encourage other international leaders to use it as a platform to announce their own countries’ tougher emission targets or other commitments, ahead of November’s U.N. global climate talks in Glasgow.

The administration hopes more broadly the session will demonstrate a commitment to cutting emissions at home and encouraging the same abroad, the official said. That includes encouraging governments to get moving on specific, politically-bearable ways to retool their transportation and power sectors and overall economies now to meet those tougher future targets, something the Biden administration is just embarking on.

President Joe Biden has previously batted with Russia’s Vladmir Putin on election interference and cyber attacks.
President Joe Biden has previously batted with Russia’s Vladmir Putin on election interference and cyber attacks.
Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Like Bush’s and Obama’s major-economies climate forums, Biden’s invite list includes leaders of the world’s biggest economies and European blocs. That includes two countries — Russia and China — that Biden and his diplomats are clashing against over election interference, cyber attacks, human rights and other issues. It’s not clear how those two countries in particular will respond to the U.S. invitations, or whether they are willing to cooperate with the U.S. on cutting emissions while sparring on other topics. China is the world’s top emitter of climate-damaging pollution. The U.S. is No. 2. Russia is No. 4.

Climate scientists and climate policy experts largely welcomed Biden’s international overture on climate negotiations, especially the outreach to China.

“China is by far the world’s largest emitter. Russia needs to do more to reduce its emissions. Not including these countries because they aren’t doing enough would be like launching an anti-smoking campaign but not directing it at smokers,” said Nigel Purvis, who worked on climate diplomacy in past Democratic and Republican administrations.

Ideally, government leaders of China and other major economies will be looking for opportunities to talk over specific matters, such as whether broad agreement is possible on setting any price on carbon emissions, said Bob Inglis, a former Republican lawmaker who works to involve conservatives and conservative approaches in climate efforts. “That’s why this kind of outreach makes sense.”

Manzanas wind turbines stand out near the Tehachapi Mountains in Rosamond, California.
Manzanas wind turbines stand out near the Tehachapi Mountains in Rosamond, California.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Brazil is on the list as a major economy, but it’s also a major climate backslider under President Jair Bolsonaro, who derailed preservation efforts for the carbon-sucking Amazon and joined Trump in trampling international climate commitments.

The 40 invitees also include leaders of countries facing some of the gravest immediate threats, including low-lying Bangladesh and the Marshall islands, countries seen as modeling some good climate behavior, including Bhutan and some Scandanavian countries, and African nations with big carbon sink forests or big oil reserves. Poland and some other countries on the list are seen by some as possibly open to moving faster away from dirty coal power.

President Joe Biden's administration has made the campaign promise to rejoin the Paris climate accords after former President Donald Trump withdrew.
President Joe Biden’s administration has made the campaign promise to rejoin the Paris climate accords after former President Donald Trump withdrew.
UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden as a candidate pledged $2 trillion in investment to help transform the U.S. into a zero-emission economy by 2050 while building clean-energy and technology jobs. Biden and other administration officials have been stressing U.S. climate intentions during early one-on-one talks with foreign leaders, and Biden climate envoy John Kerry has focused on diplomacy abroad to galvanize climate efforts.

Biden discussed the summit in a conversation Friday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with both leaders agreeing on the need to keep emissions-cutting targets ambitious, the White House said.



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Suspect arrested in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Police have apprehended a suspect in the fatal December stabbing of a Brooklyn man, cops said on Saturday.

The suspect, John Headley, 32, also of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Friday and charged with murder and weapons possession for the Dec. 12 knifing of Ken Baird, 37, police said.

Baird was stabbed multiple times in the chest following a dispute on Crown Street near Utica Avenue in Crown Heights at about 6:40 p.m., police said.

EMS transported Baird to King County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, cops said.

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Man dies after jumping from Staten Island Ferry

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A 53-year-old man died Saturday after jumping from the Staten Island Ferry into the chilly waters of New York Harbor, police said.

NYPD Harbor launch officers pulled the man out of the water after responding to reports of a jumper near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan at around 2 p.m.

“He jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock,” an NYPD spokesman told The Post. He jumped off the Ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi, police said.

The unidentified victim was removed to Pier 11 and transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 3:10 p.m.

A newsstand worker said there were “about 50 or so emergency people” at Pier 11 following a valiant effort — which included CPR — to save the man’s life.

Ferry1

An NYPD spokesman says the 53-year-old man “jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.”

Michael Dalton

Ferry3

The 53-year-old man was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Michael Dalton

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Kemp Lashes M.L.B. as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law

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Mr. Kemp, who is gearing up to run for re-election in 2022, has striven to re-enter the good graces of Republican voters after becoming a central political target of former President Donald J. Trump because of his refusal to help Mr. Trump overturn the state’s election results last year. A former secretary of state of Georgia who has his own record of decisions that made voting harder for the state’s residents, he is again a key G.O.P. voice leading the charge on the issue.

On Saturday, he repeatedly tried to paint the league’s decision as driven by Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia who is seen as likely to challenge Mr. Kemp again next year.

Ms. Abrams, one of the most prominent critics of Georgia’s voting law, has pushed back on calls for sports leagues and corporations to boycott the state. She said on Friday that she was “disappointed” baseball officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”

In defending the law in Georgia, Mr. Kemp singled out two Democratically controlled states, New York and Delaware, and compared their voting regulations with the new law in Georgia. Those states do not offer as many options for early voting as Georgia does, but they have also not passed new laws instituting restrictions on voting.

“In New York, they have 10 days of early voting,” Mr. Kemp said (New York actually has nine). “In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason.”



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