One of the many regretful aspects of the Trump presidency (remember him?) was the United States open hostility to doing anything about climate change. Pulling out of the Paris accord at a time when urgent, concerted, drastic action is required was not what our world needed.
It looks like Joe Biden will do his best to make up for lost time. From the Guardian:
Joe Biden has called upon the world to confront the climate crisis and “overcome the existential crisis of our time”, as he unveiled an ambitious new pledge to slash US planet-heating emissions in half by the end of the decade.
Addressing a virtual gathering of more than 40 world leaders in an Earth Day climate summit on Thursday, Biden warned that “time is short” to address dangerous global heating and urged other countries to do more.
Shortly before the start of the summit, the White House said the US will aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 50% and 52% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. Biden said the new US goal will set it on the path to net zero emissions by 2050 and that other countries now needed to also raise their ambition.
“Particularly those of us that represent the world’s largest economies, we have to step up,” the US president said in a speech opening the gathering.
“Let’s run that race, win a more sustainable future than we have now, overcome the existential crisis of our time.”
Biden said a shift to clean energy will create “millions of good paying union jobs” and that countries that act on the climate crisis will “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.”
Jacinda Ardern was given the option to contribute to the gathering. From the Beehive website:
“New Zealand welcomes the United States’ international leadership on climate change and sees this summit as an important opportunity to work collectively to drive effective global action on climate change,” Jacinda Ardern said.
New Zealand was asked to specifically participate in the climate finance session of the Summit. New Zealand is a leader in this field: in pricing carbon through our emissions trading scheme; the introduction of mandatory climate-related financial disclosures; and our decades-long work to end fossil fuel subsidies.
“We used the Summit to call on others to follow New Zealand’s lead and do the following four things: price carbon, make climate related financial disclosures mandatory, end fossil fuel subsidies, and finance adaptation,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Now it’s time for us all to act,” Jacinda Ardern said.
China has also pledged drastic action, pledging to have peak emissions by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. And given China’s status as a developing economy this is a significant pledge.
China has committed to move from carbon peak to carbon neutrality in a much shorter time span than what might take many developed countries, and that requires extraordinarily hard efforts from China,” Xi told other world leaders.
And when it comes to actual implementation, China’s one-party, top-down political system means it is unaffected by election cycles — unlike the US. In a thinly veiled jab at the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement, Xi appeared to underscore this difference, noting that to achieve global carbon neutrality, the world “must maintain continuity, not reverse course easily; and we must honor commitments, not go back on promises.”
The world does not have the luxury of spending further time debating how urgent the problem is and trying to coax reluctant nations to do something more than minor. We just have to get on with it. Biden looks like he is respecting the science and is determined to do something about it.