President Biden today kicked off a virtual climate summit attended by 40 other world leaders by announcing an ambitious cut in greenhouse gas emissions as he looks to put the US back at the center of the global effort to address the climate crisis and curb carbon emissions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are two notable leaders who are attending President Biden’s two-day summit, underscoring the wide range of leaders attending. Many allies of the US are also in attendance, including French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Here’s a look at the world leaders the US invited to the summit:
- Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda
- President Alberto Fernandez, Argentina
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia
- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
- Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bhutan
- President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada
- President Sebastián Piñera, Chile
- President Xi Jinping, People’s Republic of China
- President Iván Duque Márquez, Colombia
- President Félix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark
- President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission
- President Charles Michel, European Council
- President Emmanuel Macron, France
- President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon
- Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India
- President Joko Widodo, Indonesia
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
- Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy
- Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan
- President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya
- President David Kabua, Republic of the Marshall Islands
- President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
- President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria
- Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway
- President Andrzej Duda, Poland
- President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea
- President Vladimir Putin, The Russian Federation
- King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
- President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa
- Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Spain
- President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey
- President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
- President Nguyễn Phú Trọng, Vietnam
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed President Biden’s commitment to cut his country’s greenhouse gases by as much as 52% by 2030.
”The national contribution of the United States for 2030 is a clear illustration of your ambitions and is a very clear and important message to the international community,” Merkel said on Thursday during a virtual climate summit of world leaders.
Merkel also welcomed the fact that the US is back to being a global partner in tackling climate change.
”I am delighted to see that the United States is back — is back to work together with us in climate politics because there can be in no doubt about the world needing your contribution if we really want to fulfill our ambitious goals,” the German leader said.
Merkel said that the world’s commitment in tackling the climate crisis is ”a herculean task because this is nothing short of a complete transformation — a complete change of the way we do business, the way we work.”
She reiterated that Germany has already reduced its emissions by 40% — compared to 2019 — and said that the EU will be climate neutral by 2050.
‘We want to have at least 55% less emissions by 2030 compared to 1990,” Merkel said.
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will propose a new migration agreement between the countries of North and Central America this week, he announced on Sunday.
His proposal would ask Central American migrants as well as Mexicans considering emigration to work across Mexico planting trees and crops for three years in return for an eventual six-month US work visa, López Obrador said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. Eventually, participants in the program should be able to apply for US citizenship, he said.
The Mexican President plans to present the plan during Thursday’s virtual Climate Summit, convened by President Biden.
“We could make an agreement and say: ‘Let’s see, we support you to plant your land. If you are going to plant coffee, if you are going to plant cocoa for three years, we support you for three years and even more, but after those three years, once you have your harvest, you already have the automatic right to a six-month work visa for the United States,” López Obrador said from Palenque, in Chiapas.
“You’ll go six months (to the US) and then you will return to your town. And then, three years after having your work visa, with good behavior, you already have the right to apply for your US citizenship,” he added.
Some background: Thousands of Central Americans have been driven northward by the economic pain of the pandemic and two devastating Category 4 hurricanes last year. The recent influx of migrants, especially unaccompanied minors, at the US southern border has overwhelmed the American government’s resources in the last month.
Biden’s administration has asked Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to tighten their borders and stem the flow of migrants, and has also placed around 28,000 radio ads in Latin America to discourage people from making the trip.
Aiming to find in environmental reforestation a solution to the migration crisis, López Obrador’s proposal would extend the existing Mexican government welfare program Sembrando Vida, or Sowing Life.
The US is just one of the major polluters announcing new, more ambitious climate targets this week. A number of countries, including the United Kingdom and Japan, have also upped their goals.
The UK government announced on Tuesday it is aiming to slash the country’s emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. The government has previously made a commitment to reduce emissions in 2030 by at least 68% compared to 1990 levels.
On Thursday, Japan followed the UK and said it would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% in 2030 from its 2013 levels. Previously, it was targeting a 26% cut.
The European Union has reached an agreement on a new climate law on Wednesday, following marathon talks that lasted 14 hours. Under the law, the EU pledged to cut emissions by 55% below 1990 levels by 2030.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged his country’s commitment to a “green development” at the global climate summit with US President Joe Biden and other world leaders. Xi reaffirmed China would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and to peak carbon emissions by 2030.
Xi also announced China’s plan to limit the increase in coal consumption: “We will strictly control coal fired power generation projects. We will strictly limit the increase in coal consumption over the 14th 5-year-plan period, and phase it down in the 15th 5-year-plan period.” China will also promote joint efforts for green Belt and Road projects, Xi said.
“Green mountains are gold mountains. To protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to improve the environment is to improve productivity,” he said.
Speaking about the need for global cooperation on climate, Xi said, “Not long ago the Chinese and US sides released a joint statement addressing the climate crisis. China looks forward to working with the international community including the US to jointly advance global environmental governance.”
President Biden announced an ambitious goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.
“By maintaining those investments and putting these people to work, the United States sets out on the road to cut greenhouse gases in half — in half — by the end of this decade. That’s where we’re headed as a nation,” he said.
While the goals are a part of the Paris climate agreement that Biden rejoined upon taking office, they are non-binding and the administration has not rolled out a plan on how the US will meet them.
Officials said Biden and his team arrived at the final number in a meeting at the White House on Wednesday morning.
The figures were struck after lengthy consultations with government agencies, scientists, industry representatives, governors, mayors and environmental researchers. The move underscores the President’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis and follows on his pledge to work with other countries to find joint solutions to global issues.
Biden went on to call on world leaders to join him, setting up a key test of his administration’s ability to galvanize support on this issue.
“No nation can solve this crisis on our own, as I know you all fully understand. All of us, all of us and particularly those of us who represent the world’s largest economies, we have to step up. You know those that do take action and make bold investments of their people in clean energy future, will win the good jobs, tomorrow, and make their economies more resilient and more competitive,” he said.
He set the forthcoming Glasgow UN climate conference on Nov. 1 as a key target for other countries to join him in laying out goals.
Steps between now and the Glasgow conference, he said, “will set the world up for success.”
Biden called addressing climate change, which he described as “the existential threat of our time,” a moral and economic “imperative” and said this is “a moment of extraordinary possibilities.”
President Biden kicked off the Leaders Summit on Climate Thursday with welcoming remarks, calling on the world leaders to take action to combat climate change collectively as he announced an aggressive new goal for greenhouse gas emissions.
The first moments of Biden’s remarks, including the entirety of introductory remarks by Vice President Kamala Harris, were wracked with audio issues. The pool was unable to provide the summit live to television networks, a last-minute change, so reporters were reliant on a whitehouse.gov feed.
Biden pointed to actions the US would take, an effort to reassert US leadership and put the US back to the center of the global effort to address the climate crisis after the Trump administration largely disengaged.
“The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable that the cost of inaction, it just keeps mounting. The United States isn’t waiting. We are resolving to take action, not only our federal government, but our cities and our states all across our country, small businesses, large corporations, American workers in every field,” he said.
Biden focused on the job creation aspect of addressing the climate crisis in his remarks, suggesting he sees “an opportunity to create millions of good-paying middle class union jobs.”
“When I talk about climate, I think jobs. Within our climate response lies an extraordinary job creation and economic opportunity ready to be fired up,” Biden said, going on to urge investment in infrastructure.
“I want to build critical infrastructure to produce and deploy clean technology, both those we can harness today and those we will invent tomorrow,” he said.
Harris made brief introductory remarks ahead of Biden, outlining how the leaders present share the common concern of climate change.
“As a global community, it is imperative that we act quickly and together,” she said, calling for innovation and collaboration “around the world.”
As President Biden commited the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN it’s now a matter of policy and not individual choices to make these goals a reality.
“It’s going to take a national effort but this is not a matter of something that can be done just by asking individual Americans to make individual choices. This is a matter of policy,” he told CNN Thursday.
Giving the example of electric vehicles, he said it won’t take any sacrifice for Americans but policy needs to ensure that “they’re affordable, to make sure we have enough charging stations around the country, to make sure the electric vehicles of tomorrow are made in America on American soil by American workers, preferably American union workers.”
In the larger picture, Buttigieg pointed out that the US is responsible for about 15% of the world’s emissions.
“That’s why it was so disastrous when the last administration basically left the US seat at the table empty. That’s why it’s so important today that we are convening,” he added, saying that it’s important that the country leads the way.
“We’re looking for other countries to make big commitments as well. But we can’t do that with a straight face if America isn’t leading the way, if we’re not walking the talk. That’s what this big, bold but achievable commitment from the President today is going to help us do —resume that position of US Leadership and then challenge the other nations of the world to be part of the solution as well.”
Former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore praised the Biden Administration’s pledge on cutting US carbon emissions on Thursday, calling it “a ground-breaking step” and saying, “we have no more time to waste.”
Gore noted that significant cuts are needed in this decade if we are to limit the global temperature rise and avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
“This ambitious goal is one that we must reach. I know that with the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government approach, paired with investments in green jobs and infrastructure under consideration in Congress, we can,” Gore said.
In 2006, former VP Gore brought climate change to the forefront of global discussion with the Academy-Award winning film An Inconvenient Truth. Gore shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their efforts to study and inform the global audience about the climate challenge.
More on Biden’s announcement: Biden committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% below its 2005 emissions levels by 2030. While the goals are a part of the Paris climate agreement that Biden rejoined upon taking office, they are non-binding and the administration has not rolled out a plan on how the US will meet them.