THE Biden administration yesterday pledged to slash US greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, a new target it hopes will spur other big emitter countries to raise their ambition to combat climate change.
The United States, the world’s second-leading emitter, 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. President Joe Biden unveiled the goal to cut emissions by 50-52 percent from 2005 levels at the start of a two-day virtual climate summit.
“This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” Biden said.
Japan raised its target for cutting emissions to 46 percent by 2030, responding to US diplomacy and domestic companies and environmentalists, who wanted even higher goals. Canada’s Prime Minster Justin Trudeau also announced cuts of 40-45 percent by 2030 below 2005 levels.
The US climate goal also marks an important milestone in Biden’s broader plan to decarbonize the US economy entirely by 2050, an agenda he says can create millions of good-paying jobs but which many Republicans say they fear will damage the economy.
The US emissions cuts are expected to come from power plants, automobiles, and other sectors across the economy, but the White House did not set individual targets for those industries. The target nearly doubles former President Barack Obama’s pledge of an emissions cut of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
How Washington intends to reach its climate goals will be crucial to cementing US credibility on global warming, amid international concerns that America’s commitment to a clean energy economy can shift drastically from one administration to the next.
Biden’s recent US$2.3 trillion infrastructure plan contains numerous measures that could deliver some of the emissions cuts needed this decade, including a clean energy standard to achieve net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and moves to electrify the vehicle fleet.
The American Petroleum Institute cautiously welcomed Biden’s pledge but said it must come with policies including a price on carbon, which is a tough sell among some lawmakers.