President Joe Biden on Thursday vowed the US would do its part to cut greenhouse gas, pledging America will cut its emissions blamed for climate change by 50 to 52 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, and to set America on a path of zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.
‘The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction is mounting,’ the president said in his speech kicking off his Climate Summit.
‘This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative,’ Biden argued. ‘Time is short, but I believe we can do this. And I believe that we will do. Thank you for being part of the summit.’
In his remarks, Biden stressed the importance of working together but also he sold the benefits of climate change, claiming it will create jobs and boost economies. He has not gone into detail about how it will affect the daily lives of ordinary Americans.
Republicans, in contrast, criticized his plan, claiming it will put jobs at risk, will spark tax hikes and isn’t sustainable in the long term.
‘Democrats’ zeal for imposing costly environmental agendas on our own nation is not something our biggest foreign competitors seem to share,’ Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said. ‘If that’s true, our colleagues could inflict as many painful policies on American workers and American industries as they want, and still not achieve a significant change in worldwide emissions or global temperatures.’
President Biden spoke from the East Room of the White House, which was camera-ready for the virtual summit, decorated with plants and greenery. Vice President Kamala Harris introduced him. The two then joined Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and climate czar John Kerry at a U-shaped table. The attendees from around the world, joining him virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, were on a screen in front of him.
‘No nation can solve this crisis on our own, as I know you all fully understand all of us, all of us and particularly those of us who represent the world’s largest economies. We have to step up,’ Biden said.
Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan has many items that would help reduce emissions, including a clean energy standard to achieve net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and money to electrify the vehicle fleet.
President Joe Biden issued a call to action to world leaders, asking them to work together to combat climate change as he kicked off Climate Summit
There was an odd moment when it was time for Russian President Vladimir Putin to speak. He was introduced while French President Emmanuel Macron – in pretaped remarks – was still talking. Then Putin sat silently on screen as Biden sat quietly in the East Room with no one speaking; finally Putin spoke after being introduced again
All 40 world leaders invited by the White House were in attendance, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, who addressed the summit
The world leaders joined the Climate Summit virtually
The East Room of the White House was decorated in greenery for the climate summit
Pope Francis, in brief remarks to the summit, said: ‘We need to ensure that the environment is cleaner, more pure, it needs to be preserved, we must care for nature so that nature may care for us. I wish you great success during this meeting. What a wonderful idea to meet together and I will be with you every step of the way.’
Canada’s Prime Minster Justin Trudeau raised his country’s goal to of an emissions cut of 40%-45% by 2030 below 2005 levels, up from 30%
Biden, in his remarks, argued taking action now would ‘set the world up for success, protect livelihoods around the world and keep global warming at a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. We must get on the path now, in order to do that.’
Climate initiatives in Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan
$85 billion to modernize existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet rider demand
$174 billion on electric car development
$111 billion to replace lead pipes and service lines and to modernize drinking water and sewer systems
$100 billion to protect nature-based infrastructure – lands, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resource; to build up electrical system; expand tax credits for clean energy generation and storage; plug orphan oil wells and mines; and redevelop Superfund sites
$40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing system in America
$100 billion to upgrade electrical grid
$100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools
$10 billion in the modernization, sustainability, and resilience of federal buildings
$35 billion investment in climate science
$10 billion for a new Civilian Climate Corps
‘If we do will breathe easier, literally, and figuratively,’ he said. ‘We’ll create good jobs here at home for millions of Americans and lay a strong foundation with growth in the future.’
Biden has included a string of climate initiatives in his infrastructure plan including $85 billion to modernize public transport, $174 billion on building more electric cars, $100 billion to upgrade the electrical grid and a $10 billion ‘Civilian Climate Cops.’
One way to cut emissions is to use solar, wind and other renewables to power the electrical grid. David Williams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, argued such a move will ‘disproportionately hurt lower and middle income citizens who will be forced to pay higher electricity bills.’
Biden’s summit kicked off with a slick video about planet earth, where astronauts like Neil Armstrong talk about seeing it from space and how it suffers from global warming.
There were a few technical glitches – Harris’ audio had an echo when she spoke, making it difficult to decipher her remarks, and there were dial tones when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke. Other times voices were heard speaking in the background over the speaker on screen.
There also was an odd moment when it was time for Russian President Vladimir Putin to speak. He was introduced while French President Emmanuel Macron – in pretaped remarks – was still talking. Then Putin sat silently on screen as Biden sat quietly in the East Room with no one speaking.
Finally Putin was introduced again and began his talk.
‘We had some technical difficulties,’ Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said.
The summit welcome leaders from South America to Asia – crossing multiple countries and time zone. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan acknowledged the global reach when he began his remarks with: ‘Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.’
In his remarks, Putin called for international cooperation to tackle climate change, urging ‘broad and effective international cooperation in the calculation and monitoring of volumes of all types of harmful emissions into the atmosphere.’
‘Russia is genuinely interested in galvanizing international cooperation so as to look further for effective solutions to climate change as well as to all other vital challenges,’ he said.
All 40 world leaders invited by the White House were in attendance on Thursday.
But there will be no one-on-one conversations taking place on the sidelines after the US slapped additional sanctions on Russia and Biden has vowed to take on China.
There will be ‘no bilaterals or side zoom rooms that are happening,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a call Wednesday.
The leaders, in their remarks, kept their focus on the topic at hand and reiterated their own country’s goals to combat climate change.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Wednesday the UK would cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 and issued a call to arms in his remarks to the summit on Thursday.
‘It’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive, politically correct green act of bunny hugging… This is about growth and jobs,’ he said.
During his remarks, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested the U.S. government offer temporary work visas and eventually citizenship to those who take part in a tree planting program he began and wishes to expand.
He explained he wants to expand his ‘Sembrando Vida,’ or ‘Sowing Life,’ program to Central America to be the ‘largest reforestation effort in the world.’
Lopez Obrador said the program aims to create 1.2 million jobs and plant 3 billion additional trees.
He suggested Biden ‘could finance’ the program’s extension to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the tree Northern Triangle countries struggling with poverty and harsh living conditions. Many of the migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border come from those three countries.
He suggested the temporary visa given to plant trees could lead to US citizenship.
‘The U.S. government could offer those who participate in this program that after sowing their lands for three consecutive years, they would have the possibility to obtain a temporary work visa,’ Lopez Obrador said.
‘And after another three or four years, they could obtain residency in the United States or dual nationality,’ he added.
The State Department released a full schedule of the summit, which will take place virtually Thursday and Friday.
In addition to the president and world leaders, several Cabinet secretaries and business leaders will attend.
Speakers include Pope Francis, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, World Bank President David Malpas, and Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser.
President Joe Biden, center, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, right, listen during the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, from the East Room of the White House
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on his fellow leaders to get ‘serious’ about combatting climate change and said it was not about ‘bunny hugging’
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested the US could fund his tree planting program, offering temporary worker visas to help expand it and those visas could eventually lead to US citizenship
German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to President Biden make opening remarks at the climate summit
Vice President Kamala Harris opened the climate summit, introducing President Biden
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to U.S. President Joe Biden as he attends a virtual global climate summit
Climate activists with Extinction Rebellion DC protest President Joe Biden’s plan to cut US emissions in half by 2030, which they deem ‘far too little, far too late’
The activists dumped piles of manure in the street in front of the White House to protest Biden not doing enough to help combat climate change
With the summit, Biden is seeking to revive a U.S.-convened forum of the world’s major economies on climate that George W. Bush and Barack Obama both used and Donald Trump let languish.
The new US target on emissions aims to ‘challenge the world on increasing ambition and combatting the climate crisis,’ an administration official said on a briefing call with reporters.
Combined with announcements expected by other leaders, the official said the world will be closer – but not yet on track – to keeping the planet’s temperature within 2.7 Fahrenheit above pre-industrial times, the level scientists say is needed to avoid the most severe effects of climate change.
‘Over half the world’s economy is now moving to cut emissions at a global pace needed to keep 1.5 C in reach,’ the official said. ‘Our coalition is growing.’
Biden’s action raises the pressure on China – by far the world’s largest carbon emitter.
In his remarks to the summit, Chin’s President Xi Jinping reiterated his country’s pledge to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
‘We must be committed to green development. To improve the environment is to boost productivity,’ he said.
Xi said developed countries, responsible for greater historical carbon emissions, should bear more responsibility for making changes at home and helping developing countries finance their transition to low-carbon economies.
Xi emphasized that China is aiming to move from peak carbon to net zero in a short time period – just 30 years, or the span of one generation.
And Japan, a heavy user of coal, announced its own new 46% emissions reduction target.
In his remarks, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the world is ‘at the verge of the abyss’ because of climate change and must take aggressive steps to avoid catastrophe.
He called for world leaders to build a global coalition for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – ‘every country, every region, every city, every company and every industry.’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India made no new commitment, but reiterated his nation’s promise of installing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
Britain in November will host a UN conference in Glasgow that aims to upgrade the 2015 Paris Agreement.
A UN report late last year said that the world was on course for warming of three degrees Celsius — a level at which the planet is forecast to see many glaciers and ice caps melt, low-lying areas submerged and increasingly severe droughts, floods and disasters that could trigger famine and mass migration.
President Biden’s Opening Remarks to his Climate Summit
Good morning to all of our colleagues around the world — the world leaders who are taking part in this summit. I thank you. You know, your leadership on this issue is a statement to the people of your nation and to the people of every nation, especially our young people, that we’re ready to meet this moment. And meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet; it’s also about providing a better future for all of us.
That’s why, when people talk about climate, I think jobs. Within our climate response lies an extraordinary engine of job creation and economic opportunity ready to be fired up. That’s why I’ve proposed a huge investment in American infrastructure and American innovation to tap the economic opportunity that climate change presents our workers and our communities, especially those too often that have — left out and left behind.
I’d like to buil- — I want to build a — a critical infrastructure to produce and deploy clean technology — both those we can harness today and those that we’ll invent tomorrow.
I talked to the experts, and I see the potential for a more prosperous and equitable future. The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. But the cost of inaction is — keeps mounting.
The United States isn’t waiting. We are resolving to take action — not only the — our federal government, but our cities and our states all across our country; small businesses, large businesses, large corporations; American workers in every field.
I see an opportunity to create millions of good-paying, middle-class, union jobs.
I see line workers laying thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid.
I see workers capping hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells that need to be cleaned up, and abandoned coalmines that need to be reclaimed, putting a stop to the methane leaks and protecting the health of our communities.
I see autoworkers building the next generation of electric vehicles, and electricians installing nationwide for 500,000 charging stations along our highways.
I see engine- — the engineers and the construction workers building new carbon capture and green hydrogen plants to forge cleaner steel and cement and produce clean power.
I see farmers deploying cutting-edge tools to make soil of our — of our Heartland the next frontier in carbon innovation.
By maintaining those investments and putting these people to work, the United States sets out on the road to cut greenhouse gases in half — in half by the end of this decade. That’s where we’re headed as a nation, and that’s what we can do if we take action to build an economy that’s not only more prosperous, but healthier, fairer, and cleaner for the entire planet.
You know, these steps will set America on a path of net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. But the truth is, America represents less than 15 percent of the world’s emissions. No nation can solve this crisis on our own, as I know you all fully understand. All of us, all of us — and particularly those of us who represent the world’s largest economies — we have to step up.
You know, those that do take action and make bold investments in their people and clean energy future will win the good jobs of tomorrow, and make their economies more resilient and more competitive.
So let’s run that race; win more — win more sustainable future than we have now; overcome the existential crisis of our times. We know just how critically important that is because scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade. This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of a climate crisis. We must try to keep the Earth’s temperature and — to an increase of — to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
You know, the world beyond 1.5 degrees means more frequent and intense fires, floods, droughts, heat waves, and hurricanes tearing through communities, ripping away lives and livelihoods, increasingly dire impacts to our public health.
It’s undeniable and undevi- — you know, the idea of accelerating and the reality that will come if we don’t move. We can’t resign ourselves to that future. We have to take action, all of us.
And this summit is our first step on the road we’ll travel together — God willing, all of us — to and through Glasgow this November and the U.N. Climate Conference — the Climate Change Conf- — Conference, you know, to set our world on a path to a secure, prosperous, and sustainable future. The health of communities throughout the world depends on it. The wellbeing of our workers depends on it. The strength of our economies depends on it.
The countries that take decisive action now to create the industries of the future will be the ones that reap the economic benefits of the clean energy boom that’s coming.
You know, we’re here at this summit to discuss how each of us, each country, can set higher climate ambitions that will in turn create good-paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.
We have to move. We have to move quickly to meet these challenges. The steps our countries take between now and Glasgow will set the world up for success to protect livelihoods around the world and keep global warming at a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. We must get on the path now in order to do that.
If we do, we’ll breathe easier, literally and figuratively; we’ll create good jobs here at home for millions of Americans; and lay a strong foundation for growth for the future. And — and that — that can be your goal as well. This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative, a moment of peril but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.
Time is short, but I believe we can do this. And I believe that we will do this.
Thank you for being part of the summit. Thank you for the communities that you — and the commitments you have made, the communities you’re from. God bless you all.
And I look forward to progress that we can make together today and beyond. We really have no choice. We have to get this done.
Biden Climate Summit
The White House announced all 40 world leaders invited to President Joe Biden’s Climate Summit will attend. Those include:
• Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda
• President Alberto Fernandez, Argentina
• Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia
• Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
• Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bhutan
• President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada
• President Sebastián Piñera, Chile
• President Xi Jinping, People’s Republic of China
• President Iván Duque Márquez, Colombia
• President Félix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark
• President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission
• President Charles Michel, European Council
• President Emmanuel Macron, France
• President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon
• Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India
• President Joko Widodo, Indonesia
• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
• Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy
• Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
• Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan
• President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya
• President David Kabua, Republic of the Marshall Islands
• President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico
• Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
• President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria
• Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway
• President Andrzej Duda, Poland
• President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea
• President Vladimir Putin, The Russian Federation
• King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
• Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
• President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa
• Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Spain
• President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey
• President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates
• Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
• President Nguyễn Phú Trọng, Vietnam
Additionally, several American Cabinet officials will attend, including:
- Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
- Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry
- Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen
- Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
- Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines
- US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield
- Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
- Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm
- Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
- Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
- National Economic Council Director Brian Deese
- Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan
- United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai
- National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy