Speaking to dozens of world leaders Thursday during a two-day summit on climate change, President Biden unveiled an ambitious plan to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
“The signs [of global warming] are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” said Biden. “We are resolving to take action, not only our federal government, but our cities and our states…small businesses, large businesses, large corporations, American workers in every field.” Through clean energy initiatives, we will create “millions of good-paying middle class union jobs.”
The EU has also pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, while China is aiming for 2060.
Despite its frosty relationship with the United States, China described the summit as “candid, constructive, and beneficial” and announced plans to establish a joint working group on climate change.
President Biden’s emissions goal is nearly twice what former President Barack Obama promised when he helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Reaching it will require the US to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from the power supply by 2035 and abandon the use of coal.
Though policy details have yet to be announced, we can expect the following:
- New emissions rules for power plants and automobiles
- Additional funding for research into clean energy
- Increased efforts to conserve oceans and forests
- Cutting or ending fossil fuel subsidies
Separately, Biden has asked Congress for $1.2 billion to pay into a fund to help developing nations, such as Brazil, transition away from fossil fuels. Brazil has plans to reduce emissions by 2030, but says it will need significant financial aid to do so.
A secondary goal of the climate summit was to reposition the US as a global leader following former President Donald Trump’s departure from the Paris Agreement. This includes the reinstatement of the Major Economics Forum on Energy and Climate, an Obama-era program that brings together leaders from the 17 economies producing the most emissions.
“The US is back in the game,” says National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy. “They’re not wrong that we have lost some time. But frankly, the US is looking at this as a tremendous opportunity to shift to clean energy. And we would hope that China and our other countries would look at it similarly.”