New COVID-19 steps to be announced by Biden ahead of UN meeting

Vice President Joe Biden will announce a series of steps the U.S. is taking to address climate change as he prepares for a major meeting at the United Nations next week on combating climate change , an administration official said Thursday.

The vice president will also call on other world leaders to take actions before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Paris late next year, including increasing clean energy technology and renewable energy use and reducing their use of hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs, which are used in air conditioners and can be 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases .

“The goal here is to see what we can do now ahead of Paris,” said Dan Utech, special assistant to President Barack Obama on energy and climate.

The steps will be part of a broader U.S. effort being announced next week that the administration has dubbed “Mission Innovation ,” he said. It’s an effort to double government investments in research and development of clean energy technology over five years, with other countries also undertaking their own similar efforts, Utech said .

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The announcement comes as Biden prepares to travel Saturday to Ottawa, Canada , for meetings on Friday and Saturday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and other top officials.

Biden’s visit comes as world leaders prepare to meet next month at a United Nations conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in New York City. The Obama administration has said it will support a treaty that regulates international trade in conventional weapons “while preserving America’s national security interests.” But Biden will also press Canada to join the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative , which aims to prevent ships from carrying weapons of mass destruction across international waters.

“It is essential for us to work together now to build momentum towards an ATT with high standards that effectively protects both our national interests and our citizens,” Biden will say, according to excerpts provided by his office.

“We must ensure that the ATT is consistent with our existing legal obligations and policy goals. In particular, any treaty should recognize the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of firearms by responsible citizens for sport, recreation, and collection.”