In April, President Joe Biden convened the Leaders Summit on Climate where 40 world leaders gathered virtually to discuss actions needed to address climate change. At the summit, President Biden announced a new target for the U.S. to cut its economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions in half from 2005 levels by 2030. This ambitious pledge signals the country’s intention to reestablish itself as an international climate leader and motivate other countries to commit to more ambitious emission reduction goals.
For the U.S. to meet its 2030 goal, it will need to dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels in the energy sector—including electricity, transportation, and buildings—as well as significantly reduce methane emissions and develop new ways to trap and sequester greenhouse gasses. The Foundation is proud to support many organizations that are identifying and advocating for the policies and approaches required to achieve swift and equitable climate action. For example:
- Natural Resources Defense Council analyzed pathways for meeting the 2030 economy-wide goal.
- Energy Innovation demonstrated the feasibility of an 80 percent clean electricity grid by 2030 that provides enough electricity to rapidly electrify transportation and buildings.
- Peggy Sheppard, Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, provided remarks urging officials to elevate the voices, experiences, and solutions within communities most affected by environmental injustices and climate change.
- The Equitable and Just National Climate Forum is leading the effort to implement the Biden Administration Justice40 Initiative, which established a goal to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate investments to disadvantaged communities.
The big questions following the summit are whether other world leaders believe the U.S. is finally ready to assume climate leadership and whether U.S. efforts will be enough to encourage other major emitting countries to follow. Following the summit, Japan, Canada, Brazil and the European Union announced new pledges to further reduce emissions. But China, India, and Russia—ranked first, third, and forth respectively in global emissions—made no new commitments.
The stakes could not be any higher. If countries fail to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the global economy could lose trillions of dollars as a result of natural disasters, and disease, with human suffering falling hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.
There is no question that taking bold and equitable climate action at the global scale is a big challenge. But thankfully, most of the climate solutions we need already exist and the costs to deploy them are rapidly declining. What’s needed now is leadership and execution. It’s extremely exciting to see the U.S. step into a climate leadership role. Now, it must make good on its promises and encourage other countries to do the same.