President Joe Biden opened a global climate summit Thursday aimed at getting world leaders to dig deeper on emissions cuts. The United States pledged to cut in half the amount of climate-wrecking coal and petroleum fumes it is pumping out.
Biden ih his opening speech said “the United States and other big economies “have to get this done.”
“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden declared, speaking from a TV-style set for a virtual summit of 40 world leaders. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us,” he said, calling it “a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity.”
“The signs are unmistakable. the science is undeniable. the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” he added.”
The summit is to host major world leaders including President Xi Jinping of China who had assured of his participation in the event that is supposed to be virtual.
Biden’s administration is sketching out a vision of a prosperous, clean-energy United States where factories churn out cutting-edge batteries for export, line workers re-lay an efficient national electrical grid and crews cap abandoned oil and gas rigs and coal mines.
His commitment to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030 marks a return by the U.S. to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump. Japan, a heavy user of coal, announced its own new 46% emissions reduction target Thursday before the summit opened as the U.S. and its allies sought to build momentum.
The Biden administration’s pledge would require by far the most ambitious U.S. climate effort ever, nearly doubling the reductions that the Obama administration had committed to in the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord.
The new urgency comes as scientists say that climate change caused by coal plants, car engines and other fossil fuel use is already worsening droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters and that humans are running out of time to stave off most catastrophic extremes of global warming.
But administration officials, in previewing the new target, disclosed aspirations and vignettes rather than specific plans, budget lines or legislative proposals for getting there.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris opened the Earth Day summit from the White House East Room before world leaders, including those from China, Russia, India, Gulf oil states, European and Asian allies and island and coastal nations already struggling against the effects of climate change. Pope Francis was also due to take part.
Biden planned to join a second session of the livestreamed summit later in the morning on financing poorer countries’ efforts to remake and protect their economies against global warming.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the summit was playing out as a climate telethon-style livestream, limiting opportunities for spontaneous interaction and negotiation. The effort opened with a technological glitch — an echo in Harris’s and Biden’s remarks that was soon fixed.
With the pledge from the United States and other emissions-cutting announcements from Japan, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, countries representing more than half the world’s economy will have now committed to cutting fossil fuel fumes enough to keep the earth’s climate from warming, disastrously, more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius), the administration said.
As of 2019, the last year before the pandemic, the U.S. had reduced 13% of its greenhouse gases compared with 2005 levels, which is about half way to the Obama administration goals of 26 to 28%, said climate scientist Niklas Hohne of Climate Action Tracker. That’s owing largely to market forces that have made solar and wind, and natural gas, much cheaper