Virtual Climate Summit: Biden Announces US Aiming To Reduce CO2 Emissions By 50-52% By 2030

At the White House summit, which will take place virtually Thursday and Friday, Biden will require the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Officials said Biden and his team arrived at the final number on Wednesday morning at a meeting at the White House.

The figures were drawn up after lengthy consultations with government agencies, scientists, industry representatives, governors, mayors and environmental researchers. This move underscores the president’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis and follows his pledge to work with other countries to find joint solutions to global problems.

When then-President Barack Obama first acceded to the Paris climate accord in 2015, he pledged to cut emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025, making the new 50% -52% a giant leap forward. A second official said the higher target would give the US “significant leverage” to convince other countries to raise their ambitions ahead of a climate summit in Glasgow later this year.

What the president won’t reveal, at least for the moment, is a specific roadmap for how the United States will achieve those goals, which are described as “economy-wide.” Officials described “multiple avenues” for the US to achieve the goal, saying that later this year the president’s climate task force would make sector-by-sector recommendations on how to achieve the necessary cuts.

“Achieving that goal is something we can do in a variety of ways,” said a senior official a day before the announcement.

“In the coming months, you will continue to see from the administration that attention is being paid to boosting the necessary measures to unlock the jobs that tackling the climate crisis offers,” said the senior official.

Several members of Biden’s cabinet will play roles at the summit, including hosting sessions, speaking at sessions and discussing how their role or department or agency relates to issues surrounding the climate crisis, a separate administration official said earlier. week.

The summit will focus on mobilizing public and private sector funding to achieve net zero emissions and “build a resilient future,” the official said. The US plans to discuss investment in innovation, which the government says is critical to creating transformational technologies to reduce emissions while creating new economic opportunities.

It is hoped that other countries will follow the US lead with additional announcements of new targets to address the crisis, the government official said.

“There is a clear sign that we expect action at this meeting. We are looking for people to make announcements, raise their ambition, indicate that they want to take the next steps to resolve the climate problem,” said the civil servant. .

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are two notable leaders who have both confirmed their participation in the summit, underscoring the wide range of leaders present. The summit will also be attended by many US allies, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The summit is very different from how the climate was approached over the past four years under former President Donald Trump. The former president has repeatedly denied the scientific realities of the climate crisis and his administration has systematically reversed environmental policy.

Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement, but officials from the Biden administration said work to reduce carbon emissions continued at the national and local levels anyway, keeping the US from losing too much ground.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, told “The Ax Files with David Axelrod” that while Trump reversed environmental policy for the past four years, “our private sector did not turn back the clock and our state. Governments did not turn back, and the American people generally didn’t turn it back. “

“It is up to us to build on what we do during these four years so that it will be harder for another government to turn things around so quickly,” Thomas-Greenfield told Axelrod, who is a senior political commentator for CNN. is.

Since taking office in January, Biden has made climate change an essential element of US foreign policy and national security. The US has reentered the Paris climate accord, the landmark international agreement signed in 2015 to limit global warming, from which Trump pulled the US out.

Biden appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as his special presidential envoy on climate, a cabinet position that sits on the National Security Council. The president also appointed Gina McCarthy, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, as his White House climate orator to lead his newly formed Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

Climate is a major focus of the president’s approximately $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal. He has said his proposal would create hundreds of thousands of jobs while tackling the climate crisis, reducing emissions and building a “modern, resilient and completely clean network”.

Biden is expected to focus heavily on the potential economic boon that the fight against climate change could bring. His critics have described attempts to move the country away from fossil fuels as job killers. But Biden hopes to highlight the opportunities that come with overhaul technology to make it cleaner.

“There is only one playbook that works right now and that playbook is that you pursue the economic opportunities that come with tackling the climate crisis, and we do,” said the senior official.

Officials said they conducted a “techno-economic” analysis in various sectors – including electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, land and oceans – to identify different ways to reduce emissions in each sector. That included the potential for new standards and incentives that would limit greenhouse gases.

“The 2030 target is a goal that we think we can achieve,” said the senior official.

As a presidential candidate, Biden came up with a plan to end carbon emissions from power plants by 2035 and proposed broader public investment in green infrastructure, including $ 2 trillion for clean energy projects.

This is a groundbreaking story and will be updated.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

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