President Biden on Thursday will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by the end of the decade, the White House said, an ambitious goal that climate analysts say can be met only by sharply cutting back oil
and coal use.
Biden will formally announce the cut as he convenes a virtual Earth Day summit for 40 world leaders Thursday and Friday. China, the globe’s largest polluter ahead of the U.S., will attend.
“The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the White House statement said.
The U.S.’s voluntary 2030 pledge, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), and part of the Paris climate pact that loosely binds global efforts was reported by the Washington Post and other news outlets earlier this week.
The 50% target would nearly double the nation’s previous commitment, from the Obama administration. It also makes it more likely the U.S. can meet its mission of net zero emissions by 2050, a common refrain from a Biden administration that has made combating climate change a fixture of the first 100 days of policy proposals.
More than 400 businesses have signed an open letter to Biden asking for the 2030 pledge. Those businesses, including Apple
Google parent Alphabet
and other major tech and consumer companies, employ more than 7 million American workers across all 50 states, representing over $4 trillion in annual revenue.
“It would send a message that the U.S. is back in the game,” after the Trump administration had removed the U.S. from the Paris accord, said Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics for the World Resources Institute, in an interview previewing the upcoming conference.
At the virtual event to be held April 22-23 — a gathering seen as a precursor to the U.N.-hosted COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, in November — the Biden administration intends to galvanize efforts by the world’s major economies “to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees F) within reach.”
The European Union and the United Kingdom have already submitted new NDCS. But other major economies, including Japan, South Korea, Canada and China, have yet to put forward a 2030 NDC aligned with their long-term emissions goal. By submitting the U.S. goal, Biden may have more leverage to convince their leadership.
Biden and the Democrats enjoy a narrow advantage in Congress as they move forward infrastructure proposals and other vehicles for energy
and climate policy. Republicans have expressed concern for costs, the impact on traditional energy-sector jobs and conflicting signs from China and other big emitters that they are doing enough to clean the air.
Biden can also use executive orders to advance his climate agenda, as he did in returning the U.S. to the Paris agreement.
U.N. reports indicate that without the more aggressive 2030 targets, most major economies aren’t moving fast enough to meet the 2050 net-zero commitments that have dominated political platforms of late.