President Joe Biden convened leaders of the world’s most powerful countries on Thursday to try to spur global efforts against climate change, drawing commitments from Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin to cooperate on cutting emissions despite their own sharp rivalries with the United States.
Biden’s own new commitment, timed to the summit, is to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030. marking a return by the U.S. to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump. Biden’s administration is sketching out 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.
Japan announced its own new 46% emissions reduction target Thursday, and South Korea said it would stop public financing of new coal-fired power plants, as the U.S. and its allies sought to build momentum via the summit.
The coronavirus pandemic compelled the summit to play out as a climate telethon-style livestream, limiting opportunities for spontaneous interaction and negotiation. The opening was rife with small technological glitches, including echoes, random beeps and off-screen voices.
But the U.S. summit also marshaled an impressive display of the world’s most powerful leaders speaking on the single cause of climate change.
China’s Xi, whose country is the world’s biggest emissions culprit, followed by the United States, spoke first among the other global figures. He made no reference to nonclimate disputes that had made it uncertain until Wednesday that he would even take part in the U.S. summit, and said China would work with America in cutting emissions. Today on AirTalk, we discuss Biden’s goals, global response and the challenges that remain in hitting the mark. Do you have thoughts or questions about the plan? Leave a comment below or call 866-893-5722.
With files from the Associated Press
Zack Colman, climate and energy reporter with Politico