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COUNTRIES STRENGTHEN CLIMATE COMMITMENTS AT BIDEN-LED EARTH DAY SUMMIT

04/26/2021

On April 22, U.S. President Joseph Biden convened a virtual summit to commemorate Earth Day. The summit was attended by the leaders of 40 countries, including many of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters (Reuters). Observers have called the event the return of U.S. global leadership in climate action (Al Jazeera and New York Times).

Biden kicked off the event by announcing the United States' new carbon emission reduction goal, promising to cut emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030. Canada and Japan followed suit. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised his country’s 2030 goal from a 30% reduction to a 40-45% reduction. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga raised his country’s target from 26% to 46% on the same timeline. President Jair Bolsonaro announced that Brazil will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, 10 years earlier than its previous goal, and President Xi Jingping stated that China will begin phasing out coal in 2026, achieving its peak coal usage before 2030 (Reuters and Wall Street Journal).

Though the event may signal a promising turn in the international agenda, environmental leaders are keen to remind the public that promises will not be enough on their own. Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevik, stated the Earth Day Summit "had more targets than an archery competition," but that real change will take “real policy and money” (Reuters).