Biden touches down in Europe ahead of G20 and COP26

29 October 2021, 06:48 | Updated: 29 October 2021, 13:31

The President and the First Lady departed for Europe on Thursday
The President and the First Lady departed for Europe on Thursday. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

US President Joe Biden has landed in Rome, where he is holding talks with the Pope ahead of the crunch G20 and COP26 summits.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

It is the first time Mr Biden has met Pope Francis since being elected as US President last year.

The White House says a number of things are on the agenda for the talks between the President and the religious leader, including climate change, poverty and Covid-19.

In a statement, the White House added their work will be "grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity".

Mr Biden is accompanied in Rome by his wife Dr Jill Biden.

What is COP26?

After meeting the Pope Mr Biden will attend a G20 summit and then head to Glasgow on Sunday night for COP26 - the United Nations climate conference.

The summit will be a key opportunity to show the world the United States is back in the game in the fight against climate change - something Mr Biden's predecessor was rather less keen on.

The pressure is even more intense as he has failed to secure a deal in Congress for his climate and economic agenda.

Read more: What is COP26 and why does it matter? A complete guide to the key climate summit

Read more: Analysis: a fortnight where the planet's fate will be decided

It will also be an opportunity for Mr Biden to reconcile with French President Emmanuel Macron, after the new AUKUS security pact between the US, Britain and Australia caused relations with France to sour.

The G20 will be a key opportunity for getting a head start with climate negotiations, with phasing out coal and keeping temperature rises within 1.5C reportedly the key points of contention.

Read more: Climate change: Why is 1.5C the magic number for controlling global warming?

If the G20 can agree on these two things, they are in a much better position to convince other countries to do the same at COP26.

'COP26 is not a glorified photo opportunity.'

Glasgow is hosting COP26, which starts on Sunday and lasts for two weeks.

Mr Biden is one of around 25,000 people expected to attend.

Read more: How will COP26 be carbon neutral?

Read more: COP26: What could be decided at the key climate summit?

Many have pinned their hopes on COP26 being a turning point on global climate negotiations - but whether it is remains to be seen.