President Joe Biden on Friday highlighted the economic opportunities of climate action a day after announcing an ambitious new goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at his Leaders Summit on Climate from the White House.
“Today’s final session is not about the threat that climate change poses, it’s about the opportunity that addressing climate change provides,” Biden said.
The President said he is grateful to all of the world leaders who have announced new commitments to curb emissions, and added that he felt the summit has so far yielded “great progress.”
“I’m very heartened by (Russian President Vladimir Putin’s) call yesterday for the world to collaborate and advance carbon dioxide removal, and the United States looks forward to working with Russia and other countries in that endeavor,” Biden said. “It has great promise.”
Biden touted partnerships with other countries — including India, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom — working to “de-carbonize critical sectors across the board.”
Biden said he has directed Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to “speed the development of critical technologies to tackle the climate crisis.”
“No single technology is the answer on its own, because every sector requires innovation to meet this moment,” Biden said. “This critical effort is going to propel the most impactful breakthroughs at home and around the world.”
On Thursday, the President committed the US to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% below its 2005 emissions levels by 2030. While the goals are a part of the Paris climate agreement that Biden rejoined upon taking office, they are non-binding and the administration has not rolled out a plan on how the US will meet them.
The second day of the event is intended to shine a light on how the President hopes the US will achieve those goals, namely by highlighting the amount of money that can be made in a green economy.
Throughout the summit’s first day, Biden and the White House repeatedly made the case that taking steps to address the climate crisis will make the US and global economy more resilient and competitive.
White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy said Thursday that the President believes “tackling the climate crisis presents a valuable economic opportunity. And the fact is, creating jobs and tackling climate change go hand in hand.”
John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, argued that “no politician, I think, could change what is now happening globally in the marketplace. And that is part of the message of what’s happened” during the summit.
Biden first proposed a global climate summit on the campaign trail, pledging to convene world leaders within his first 100 days in office “to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made.”
First day results in additional promises of emissions cuts
The wide range of leaders attending the two-day summit so far has included a number of American allies, such as France’s Emmanuel Macron and the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson, as well as leaders with whom Biden anticipates having a more confrontational relationship, like China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. While some countries reiterated during the summit that they were working toward their previously set climate goals, others, including Canada and South Korea, announced they were upping their targets.
Kerry told reporters at the White House on Thursday that almost all of the top 20 countries emitting the most greenhouse gasses pledged to take additional steps on climate.
“All 20 of them are here today, and almost all 20 of them were pledging to do additional things,” Kerry said.
Kerry also indicated that he was pleasantly surprised during the summit by some of the comments made by non-allied leaders, like Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro appeared to moderate his tone on environmental issues during the summit, but critics have cast doubt on his new attitude.
“Some of the comments that President Bolsonaro made today surprised me … that’s pretty good. That works, if you do those things. The question is will they do them? And the question is what’s the follow through and enforcement,” Kerry said.
Kerry said he thought Putin was “pretty rational and put some decent visionary thoughts on things.”
“I think there’s room to hopefully have a discussion about this and we’ll see if we can find some common ground. I think that’s the most important summary of what I heard in terms of their comments today,” Kerry added.
What to expect on day two
Friday’s summit events will underscore what the White House has long pitched as a selling point for its ambitious climate goals — that taking action on climate makes financial sense for global powers.
There will be two sessions. The first will focus on “the importance of accelerating public and private investment in climate innovation.” The second will “highlight the broad economic benefits of climate action, with a strong focus on job creation.”
A number of world leaders are expected to participate, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Polish President Andrzej Duda.
According to Bloomberg Green, Duda plans to say during the summit that the goal to reach net zero emissions needs to be “fair and just” for Poland, a nation heavily reliant on coal, while maintaining the country’s energy security.
Several Biden Cabinet members, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will participate. And featured speakers include Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Brenda Mallory — the chair of the White House’s Council on Environmental Equality — and Peggy Shepard, the co-chair of the White House’s Environmental Justice Advisory Council.