President Joe Biden will open a global climate summit with a pledge to cut at least in half the climate-wrecking coal and petroleum fumes that the U.S. pumps out, a commitment he hopes will spur China and other big polluters to speed up efforts of their own, AP reports.
Biden is offering Americans and the world a vision of a prosperous, clean-energy United States where factories churn out cutting-edge batteries for export, line workers re-lay an efficient national electrical grid and crews cap abandoned oil and gas rigs and coal mines.
His commitment to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52 percent by 2030 — similar to pledges from allies — will come at the launch Thursday of an all-virtual climate summit for 40 world leaders, marking a return by the U.S. to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump.
The Biden administration’s pledge would require by far the most ambitious U.S. climate effort ever undertaken, nearly doubling the reductions that the Obama administration had committed to in the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord.
The new urgency comes as scientists say that climate change caused by coal plants, car engines and other fossil fuel use is already worsening droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters and that humans are running out of time to stave off most catastrophic extremes of global warming.
“The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the Biden administration said in a statement. “Climate change poses an existential threat, but responding to this threat offers an opportunity to support good-paying, union jobs, strengthen America’s working communities, protect public health, and advance environmental justice.”
But Biden administration officials, in previewing the new target, disclosed aspirations and vignettes rather than specific plans, budget lines or legislative proposals for getting there. Administration officials briefing reporters in advance of Biden’s announcement made no direct mention of politically tricky moves to wean the U.S. from oil, natural gas and coal. They emphasized the role of technology, including carbon capture and hydrogen power, which have yet to be affordably developed to scale.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were scheduled to open the Earth Day summit from the White House East Room before world leaders, including the heads of China, Russia, India, Gulf oil states, European and Asian allies and island and coastal nations already struggling against the effects of climate change. Pope Francis will also take part.
Biden planned to join a second session of the livestreamed summit later in the morning on financing poorer countries’ efforts to remake and protect their economies against global warming.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the summit will play out as a climate telethon-style livestream, limiting opportunities for spontaneous interaction and negotiation.
With the pledge from the United States and other emissions-cutting announcements from Japan, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, countries representing more than half the world’s economy will have now committed to cutting fossil fuel fumes enough to keep the earth’s climate from warming, disastrously, more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius), the Biden administration said.