TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The United States and other countries hiked their targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions at a global climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden, an event meant to resurrect U.S. leadership in the fight against global warming.
Biden unveiled the goal to cut emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels at the start of a two-day climate summit kicked off on Earth Day and attended virtually by leaders of 40 countries including big emitters China, India and Russia.
The United States, the world's second-leading emitter after China, seeks to reclaim global leadership in the fight against global warming after former President Donald Trump withdrew the country from international efforts to cut emissions.
"This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis," Biden, a Democrat, said at the White House.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the new U.S. goal "game changing" as two other countries made new pledges.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who visited Biden at the White House this month, raised Japan’s target for cutting emissions to 46% by 2030, up from 26%. Environmentalists wanted a pledge of at least 50% while Japan’s powerful business lobby has pushed for national policies that favor coal.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, raised his country's goal to a cut of 40%-45% by 2030 below 2005 levels, up from 30%.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced his most ambitious environmental goal yet, saying the country would reach emissions neutrality by 2050, 10 years earlier than the previous goal.
Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic, said the summit had more targets than an archery competition.
"Targets, on their own, won’t lead to emissions cuts," she said. "That takes real policy and money. And that’s where the whole world is still way off course."
Most of the countries did not offer new emissions goals. Chinese President Xi Jinping said China expects its carbon emissions to peak before 2030 and the country will achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
Xi said China will gradually reduce its coal use from 2025 to 2030. China, a leader in producing technology for renewable energy like solar panels, burns large amounts of coal for electricity generation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed giving preferential treatment for foreign investment in clean energy projects, but also made an apparent reference to the United States being historically the world's top greenhouse gas polluter. "It is no secret that the conditions that facilitated global warming and associated problems go way back," Putin said.
The U.S. climate goal marks a milestone in Biden's broader plan to decarbonize the U.S. economy entirely by 2050 - an agenda he says can create millions of good-paying jobs but which many Republicans say will damage the economy.
The U.S. emissions cuts are expected to come from power plants, automobiles, and other sectors across the economy. Sector-specific goals will be laid out later this year.
The new U.S. target nearly doubles former President Barack Obama's pledge of an emissions cut of 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.