U.S. Treasury's Yellen vows to work with international climate finance ministers group

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government under President Joe Biden is working closely with the international community to tackle climate change, increase the scale of climate finance and leverage additional private investment, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary-designate Janet Yellen in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Yellen told her first meeting with the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, a two-year-old group that Washington joined last week, that the U.S. Treasury would play a critical role in a government-wide push to reach an ambitious 2030 emissions target under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Biden is due to announce the target at a leaders’ summit on climate change later this month, a sharp reversal from the actions of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who withdrew the United States from the climate accord.

“Climate, by its very nature, requires strong global cooperation,” Yellen told the group. “We lost four important years, and we recognize that many of you around the room have been leading change in your own countries.”

At a virtual meeting on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings, the group also welcomed seven other new member finance ministers, from Belgium, Burkina Faso, Japan, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Rwanda, bringing its ranks to 60.

The coalition said in a statement that the ministers acknowledged the increasing momentum for action on climate change and shared perspectives on using large-scale stimulus spending to help spur the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Yellen said the Treasury was working through the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council and in international forums to examine data on climate change financial risks and mitigate their potential systemic consequences.

She said the Treasury was also supporting international efforts to “better identify climate-aligned investments and encourage financial institutions to credibly align their portfolios and strategies with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”

At the same time, the Treasury was working with the White House, Congress and others to ensure that domestic economic programs and tax policies supported U.S. climate goals, including a transition to a decarbonized economy, building climate-resilient infrastructure and supporting equity and well-paying jobs.

Yellen said the Treasury was also seeking to increase the scale of climate finance and use such tools to leverage added private investment.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder; Editing by Dan Grebler and Jonathan Oatis