President Biden pledged that the U.S. will cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least half from 2005 levels by 2030, making the announcement Thursday at the virtual Leaders Climate Summit, a two-day global meeting of more than 40 world leaders hosted by the White House.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Biden said the U.S. can reach the emissions target through his jobs plan — a $3 trillion infrastructure package meant to revitalize the nation's energy grid and create a net-zero economy.
"The signs are unmistakable, the science undeniable," he said. "Cost of inaction keeps mounting."
Calling on the 40 other gathered leaders, Mr. Biden said no nation alone can solve the crisis.
"All of us have to step up," he said.
The new nationally determined contribution (NDC) will be the Biden administration's official submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in keeping with the Paris Agreement, whichon the first day of his presidency.
White House officials said Wednesday evening that the target will put the U.S. on a path to reach Mr. Biden's goal of achieving a net-zero energy grid by 2035, and a net-zero economy by 2050.
Officials said this benchmark is meant to challenge other world leaders and increase global climate ambitions.
Officials did not say the emissions goal would be enforced with a specific plan. Asked if the Biden infrastructure proposal must pass in order to meet the goal, officials said the U.S. will provide a summary to illustrate pathways that would enable the transition, but will not have a sector-by-sector standard.
Mr. Biden warned on Thursday the world would face a "punishing reality" if the global community fails to curb emissions and keep the global temperature below a 1.5 degree Celsius increase, as compared to pre-industrial levels. Scientists have warned that warming beyond that point would mean climate disaster.
Mr. Biden said the climate crisis was a moral and economic imperative, "but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities."
Later on Thursday, he announced the creation of the "International Climate Finance Plan," which outlines public and private sector investment goals to combat the climate crisis. As part of the plan, the president announced that by 2024 the U.S. will double its annual climate financing to developing countries. He said in that same timeframe the country will also triple its public financing to prepare for the impact of climate change in developing countries, representing a two-pronged strategy to aid the countries in protecting against climate threats today and improving efficiency in the future — a crucial facet of the Paris Agreement.
"This plan represents our vision for financing the global climate response in a coordinated way," Mr. Biden said.
The aid runs through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, which Mr. Biden said is committing to net-zero emissions through its investments by 2040 and will increase climate-focused investment to 33% of all new investments beginning in 2023.
Mr. Biden also called on the private sector to do more to finance climate mitigation and innovation.
"Good ideas and good intentions aren't good enough. We need to ensure that the financing will be there. Both public and private, to meet the moment on climate change," he said.
Mr. Biden also said "governments need to step up" their financial support to ensure that "climate risks to financial systems are measured, disclosed and mitigated."
He said destruction from climate disasters threatens the business sector and called on Wall Street to invest in climate-concise businesses. Mr. Biden said the financial sector needs to invest more in innovative climate technologies and bring an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
The president also said the global climate response cannot alone be focused on developing new sectors, and emphasized a focus on "international security, regional stability, food security and gender and racial equality." He stressed that all countries need to work together
as "instability and displacement" creates "ripple effects that are felt throughout the regions and across the world."
"Meeting the moment on climate change must begin with the recognition that every nation has responsibility and every nation is at risk," he said.
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