Biden seeks to rally world on climate as summit momentum builds - GulfToday

Biden seeks to rally world on climate as summit momentum builds


President Joe Biden speaks during an event in Los Angeles. File/AFP

President Joe Biden hopes to rally the world on climate as he unveils more ambitious US commitments Thursday at a summit that is expected to see a slew of new promises.

Just three months into office, Biden will welcome 40 leaders for the two-day virtual Earth Day summit, heralding a US return to the climate frontlines amid mounting worries over the rapid heating of the planet.

Green groups expect that Biden, who is pushing a green-friendly $2 trillion infrastructure package at home, will roughly double US targets for slashing emissions responsible for climate change over the next decade.


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Biden hopes the new US goal will prompt other leaders "to make announcements to raise their ambition" as well, an administration official said.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on a visit to Washington last week indicated he was planning a new commitment.

And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 40-45 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, hastening the 30 percent commitment under the Paris Agreement, public broadcaster Radio-Canada said, citing unnamed sources.

Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting. File photo

China confirmed that President Xi Jinping will take part and give an "important speech" -- his first summit, even if virtual, with Biden as president amid soaring tensions between the two powers on issues from human rights to trade to defense.

China is by far the largest carbon producer and with the United States emits around half of the pollution responsible for climate change, meaning any solution is impossible without both countries.

China last year promised to go carbon neutral by 2060 with emissions peaking at around 2030 but it has also kept up reliance on coal, the dirtiest form of energy, and bristled at EU-led calls for a carbon tax that would hit its exports.

Waiting for Biden

Former president Barack Obama, after negotiating the 2015 Paris Agreement, promised that the United States would reduce emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels.

Obama's successor Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord, calling it unfair to the world's largest economy, but the United States is still largely on track to meet Obama's goal thanks to continued commitment at the level of states, especially California, and a sharp drop in industrial production last year during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Climate change
China last year promised to go carbon neutral by 2060 with emissions peaking at around 2030.

But studies say far more needs to be done to meet the Paris goal of checking warming at two degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, let alone its aspiration of no more than 1.5 Celsius.

A UN study late last year found that the world is on track to see warming by three degrees -- a level at which the planet is forecast to see many glaciers and ice caps melt, low-lying areas submerged and increasingly severe droughts, floods and disasters that could trigger mass migration.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a speech that the United States still requires "substantially more" than the sum Biden has budgeted -- and which many Republicans oppose -- to go carbon neutral.

"Private capital will need to fill most of that gap," she said.

Trump also blocked US contributions to the Green Climate Fund, set up by the Paris Agreement to help efforts by poor nations that bear little responsibility for the warming planet.

The United States contributed $1 billion of the $3 billion Obama promised before he left office. Biden has requested $1.2 billion from Congress to make up some of the arrears.

Agence France-Presse


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