U.S. President Joe Biden joined business and union leaders Friday in touting the economic benefits of addressing global warming when he delivered remarks from the White House on the last day of a two-day virtual climate change summit.
“When we invest in climate resilience and infrastructure, we create opportunities for everyone,” Biden said.
Biden’s remarks at a session on the “economic opportunities of climate action” came one day after he announced a new goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas pollution by 50-52% by 2030.
Biden’s commitment is the most ambitious U.S. climate goal ever, nearly doubling the cuts the Obama administration pledged to meet in the Paris climate accord.
The White House arranged for billionaires, CEOs and union executives to help promote Biden's plan to reduce the U.S. economy’s reliance on fossil fuels by investing trillions of dollars in clean-energy technology, research and infrastructure while simultaneously saving the planet.
Billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared “We can't beat climate change without a historic amount of new investment,” adding “We have to do more, faster to cut emissions.”
Biden climate change envoy John Kerry emphasized Biden’s call for modernizing U.S. infrastructure to operate more cleanly, maintaining it would provide long-term benefits for the U.S. economy. “No one is being asked for a sacrifice," Kerry said. “This is an opportunity.”
Leaders from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Spain, Nigeria and Vietnam are also participating in Friday’s session, along with representatives from the U.S. transportation, energy and commerce departments.
The U.S. target is relative to 2005 levels and the White House says efforts to reach it, include moving toward carbon pollution-free electricity, boosting fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, supporting carbon capture at industrial facilities and reducing the use of methane.
U.S. allies have also vowed to cut emissions, aiming to convince other countries to follow suit ahead of the November U.N. climate change summit in Glasgow, where governments will determine the extent of each country’s reductions in fossil fuel emissions.
Japan announced new plans to cut emissions by 46%, while South Korea said it would halt the investment of public funding of new coal-fired power plants. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would increase its cuts in fossil fuel pollution by about 10% to at least 40%.
The two-day summit is part of Biden's efforts to restore U.S. leadership on the issue after his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the legally binding Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2017. Biden reversed the decision shortly after taking office.
There is skepticism about the commitment announced Thursday by Biden and there is certain to be a partisan political battle over his pledge to reduce fossil fuel use in every sector of the U.S. economy.
“Toothless requests of our foreign adversaries and maximum pain for American citizens,” reacted the top Republican party leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, calling Biden’s climate plan full of “misplaced priorities.”
World leaders agreed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius in the 2015 U.N. Paris climate agreement and to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Averaged over the entire globe, temperatures have increased more than 1.1 degree Celsius since 1980. Scientists link the increase to more severe heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms and other impacts. And they note that the rate of temperature rise has accelerated since the 1980s.