President Biden will announce on Thursday that the United States is targeting a 50%-52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — a far-reaching goal that will require a significant overhaul to major sectors of the U.S. economy and Americans’ way of life.
Mr. Biden is announcing the pledge at a virtual climate summit of world leaders he’s hosting Thursday and Friday, coinciding with Earth Day on April 22.
The president has set broader goals of creating a net-zero emission power sector by 2035 and a fully net-zero emission economy by 2050.
“The United States is not going to wait, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act right now,” an administration official told reporters on a call previewing the announcement.
Another official said the target gives the United States “significant leverage” to prod other countries to set their own aggressive targets to cut emissions.
“When we close this summit on Friday, we will [have] unmistakably communicated that the U.S. is back,” the official said.
The official said that with the U.S. commitment, plus new goals from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan, countries accounting for more than half of the world’s economy are committed to emissions targets that will be required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the ultimate aim of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Mr. Biden made moves on his first day in office to get the U.S. back into the agreement.
Former President Trump announced in 2017 that the U.S. would exit the accord, saying he was elected to “represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
“It’s important to keep in mind that over the last four years, our cities and our states, our businesses and our workers — they stayed in [the agreement],” an administration official said Wednesday. “Pittsburgh stayed in, and we kept marching towards the targets of the Paris Agreement.”
The president’s pledge to cut emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels within 10 years is significantly more aggressive than former President Obama’s 2015 target to cut emissions by at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Mr. Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan includes major climate-related spending items, like $174 billion for electric vehicles and $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps.
An official said there are “multiple paths” to reaching the 50%-52% target and that the infrastructure package, which the White House calls the American Jobs Plan, should play a big role in getting there.
“There is not a sector-level goal and there is not a source-level goal,” they said. “We need to make sure that the future is made in America, and the investments and programs laid out in the American Jobs Plan will catalyze progress.”
Even before the formal announcement, environmental activists said a target of around 50% wasn’t ambitious enough, while conservatives said trying to meet it will sap the U.S. economy with no guarantees that other countries will follow through on their own pledges.
An official said they will try to ensure that firms and workers aren’t put at a competitive disadvantage as entire sectors shift and transform to meet the goals.
They said costs for batteries and solar power are on the way down, but meeting goals on zero-emission vehicles, for example, will take “real investment” in growing the battery supply chain, retooling factories and installing the proper charging tools.
“We’re standing here with better field position today than we had four years ago, than we had 10 years ago,” the official said. “We cannot take it for granted that we will win this market, but that’s why we need to invest, and we need to make it in America, and we need to insist on good-paying union jobs.”
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