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HomeNewsEnvironmentVice President Harris making big climate announcement on Virginia Key

Vice President Harris making big climate announcement on Virginia Key

Vice President Kamala Harris will be visiting the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel school on Virginia Key Friday afternoon to announce $562 million to help protect communities against the impacts of climate change.

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Key Biscayne officials are not participating in the events, said Village Manager Steve Williamson, but security for the vice president’s visit to a hurricane simulator and marine lab on the campus will cause some traffic impacts. 

“Everybody should expect traffic delays,” said Deputy Chief Jason Younes. “Avoid the [Rickenbacker] Causeway in the afternoon,” he said.

The schedule has Harris touching down at Miami International Airport after noon. Her day is packed with a TV interview, a visit to the Virginia Key campus around 4 p.m, followed by a speech, and then an early evening departure. 

Also today, President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order that would create the White House Office of Environmental Justice.

Biden will sign the executive order to continue delivering on “the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history,” the White House said in a statement.

The order tells executive branch agencies to use data and scientific research to understand how pollution hurts people’s health, so that work can be done to limit any damage. Under the order, executive agencies would be required to inform nearby communities if toxic substances were released from a federal facility.

Harris’ visit to Miami coincides with a White House Climate Summit, where the president earlier announced $1 billion in new climate finance for developing nations, as well as other recent and planned legislation and programs. 

The Green Climate Fund would help less-wealthy nations to fortify themselves against the rising seas and increased disasters of climate change, and to develop clean renewable energy.

Biden also said he would ask Congress for $500 million over the next five years to help slow the destruction of the Amazon, a vital natural reserve soaking up fumes from oil, natural gas and coal in South America.

But in a stinging rebuke, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres bluntly challenged the efforts of Biden and other world leaders in a message for the White House summit, charging that expanded oil and gas drilling and other policies of the richest countries amount to a “death sentence” for the planet.

The challenge — recorded by Guterres in a video for the White House virtual climate summit — came as Russia’s war in Ukraine and other threats to the world’s short-term oil and gas supply are leading the U.S. and some other nations to up production of climate-damaging oil, natural gas and coal.

Guterres did not single out the U.S. or any other nation by name, but the policies he targeted, including expanded fossil fuel production, apply to the United States, strategic U.S. partners in the Gulf, and many others.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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