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 . 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 . 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 . This is compared to 192 countries that have submitted their first NDC. Among the goals set out by President Biden include :
- 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 . According to the Climate Action Tracker, the U.S.’ new goals remain 5-10% points short of falling in line with that target .
After what has been an important summit, all eyes are now set on the looming COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November.
References The White House, President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate, (2021). Available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/26/president-biden-invites-40-world-leaders-to-leaders-summit-on-climate/, (accessed on 21 April 2021)
 Carbon Action Tracker, CAT Carbon Update Tracker, (2021). Available at https://climateactiontracker.org/climate-target-update-tracker/usa/, (accessed on 24 April 2021)
 UNFCCC, NDC Registry. Available at https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/NDCStaging/Pages/All.aspx, (accessed on 24 April 2021)
 U. Irfan, 5 things to know about the new US climate commitment, Vex, (2021). Available at https://www.vox.com/22397364/earth-day-us-climate-change-summit-biden-john-kerry-commitment-2030-zero-emissions, (accessed on 22 April 2021)