In Summary: The Biden Climate Summit

On April 22-23, 2021 the White House hosted a virtual summit bringing together forty world leaders with the aim to set new, firmer targets aimed at reducing carbon emissions and transitioning the global economy to a cleaner, more sustainable model [1]. The Biden Summit was preceded by announcements from the United Kingdom and the European Union setting forth new goals that would see both reduce their emissions by 78% (on 1990 levels by 2035) and 55% (on 1990 levels by 2030), respectively.

On the first day of the summit, the Biden-Harris administration unveiled their plans to reduce United States (U.S.) emissions between 50 to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a 12-14% increase of what President Obama had committed to at the 2015 Paris Agreement [2]. Contrary to other nations, the U.S. baseline target is based on 2005, the year where the nation’s emissions peaked at over 6 gigatonnes. Following on from this announcement, U.S.  became one of eight countries worldwide to publish their updated (second) Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which outlined how they expect to meet their targets [3]. This is compared to 192 countries that have submitted their first NDC. Among the goals set out by President Biden include [2]: 

  • 100% of America’s energy to be carbon-free by 2035;
  • Use of tax credits to accelerate implementation of wind and solar energy; and
  • $174 billion to be put into the electric vehicle infrastructure.

China and India made announcements of their own, committing to varying levels of decarbonisation as President Biden called for a concerted, global push by the world’s largest economies to reduce emissions. While the U.S.’ re-entry into the Paris Agreement and new targets are no doubt impressive, scientists and experts warn that their – like most major nations’ – commitments are still short of what is needed to limit global warming to a 1.5°C increase [4]. According to the Climate Action Tracker, the U.S.’ new goals remain 5-10% points short of falling in line with that target [2]. 

After what has been an important summit, all eyes are now set on the looming COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November.


[1] The White House, President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate, (2021). Available at, (accessed on 21 April 2021)
[2] Carbon Action Tracker, CAT Carbon Update Tracker, (2021). Available at,  (accessed on 24 April 2021)
[3] UNFCCC, NDC Registry. Available at, (accessed on 24 April 2021)
[4] U. Irfan, 5 things to know about the new US climate commitment, Vex, (2021). Available at, (accessed on 22 April 2021)
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