President Joe Biden issued a call to action to world leaders on Thursday, asking them to work together to keep the earth’s temperature from rising too high in the next decade, arguing it would result in new jobs and economic opportunities.
‘The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction is mounting,’ he 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 emphasized combatting climate change can create jobs and boost economies.
He 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 and he was joined by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and climate czar John Kerry. The attendees from around the world, joining him virtually, were on a screen in front of him.
Biden vowed the US would do its part, pledging the country will cut 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 2015.
‘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,’ he said.
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
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 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.’
His 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.
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.
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 meeting marks Biden’s first face-to-face meetings with the two leaders – whom he has spoken to on the phone – since he took office.
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.
‘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 told the summit.
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’
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.’
Japan said Thursday it aims to cut emissions 46 percent by 2030 — significantly more than previously pledged — and Canada is expected to follow suit. Both countries have forged early bonds with Biden.
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.’
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.
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