It is no secret that the Biden administration is following in President Obama’s footsteps when it comes to an emphasis on climate change. Within President Biden’s first day in office he re-joined the Paris Climate Agreement and made several executive orders that upturned former President Trumps actions and hailed in a new climate friendlier outlook – which is now central to the Biden administration. On the Earth Day Climate summit, President Biden urged the world to confront the climate crisis, that “time was short” to address the dangers of global warming and that we needed to “overcome the existential crisis of our time”. He urged other countries to do more, and stated that he aimed to reduce the USA’s greenhouse gas emissions between 50% and 52% by 2030, saying that it would carve the path for net zero emissions by 2050.
In his speech at the Climate Leaders Summit, Biden urged other countries to also raise their ambitions of combating climate change, pointing to “particularly those of us that represent the world’s largest economies, we have to step up… Let’s run that race, win a more sustainable future than we have now, overcome the existential crisis of our time.”
He argued that the move towards clean energy would “millions of good paying union jobs” and those countries addressing the climate crisis would “reap the economic benefits of the clean energy boom that’s coming”. He said: “This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative, a moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities. Time is short but I believe we can do this and I believe we will do this.”
The US target will be based on carbon emission levels recorded in 2005 but this new commitment will essentially double America’s previous targets. Biden also stated that: “Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” President Biden said at the summit’s opening address. We must try to keep the Earth’s temperature to an increase of 1.5C.
The world beyond 1.5 degrees means more frequent and intense fires, floods, droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes – tearing through communities, ripping away lives and livelihoods.”
The Independent reported that: ‘The promise will require a dramatic overhaul of how America runs: sweeping changes to the power sector and transportation, and rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Mr. Biden’s recently-introduced $2 trillion infrastructure bill, the American Jobs Plan, has put transition to a clean energy economy at its core with funds for sweeping overhauls to the energy and transport sectors.
The target is non-binding, but nevertheless symbolically important, and would give the US a renewed position of credibility from which to press other nations to increase their goals.’ Experts have speculated that this will mean the move away from coal, and a switch from gas-guzzling automobiles to electric ones.
Several other countries such as Canada, Japan and South Korea also increased their pledges but sadly the leaders of some of the other world’s biggest emitters, China and India, made no further pledges, sticking to previous commitments of reduction and green developments. Japan said that it will reduce its emissions by 46% by 2030 after previously pledging a 26% cut. South Korea said it would stop financing the building of coal-fired power stations, making a new pledge itself. Canada promised to reduce by 40-45% but has come under criticism as it still falls short of what is needed. The UK has committed to a 68% reduction, with an aim to increase that to 78% by 2035.
The EU vowed a 55% reduction. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the USA’s return to the fight against climate change, calling it “game-changing”. Johnson stated that “It’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive politically correct, green act of bunny hugging… This is about growth and jobs.” Also saying “We can do this together across the world. It’s going to mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the $100bn commitment they already made in 2009.”
Nathaniel Keohane from the US Environmental Defense Fund, was quoted in the BBC, “by announcing a bold target of cutting emissions 50-52% below 2005 by the end of the decade, President Biden has met the moment and the urgency that the climate crisis demands,”
Biden stated at the opening of the summit that “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting. The US isn’t waiting, we are resolving to take action…This target aligns with what the science says is necessary to put the world on the path to a safer climate, and vaults the US into the top tier of world leaders on climate ambition.”