Joe Biden urges world leaders to ‘step up’ as he vows to halve US emissions

22 April 2021, 14:44 | Updated: 22 April 2021, 18:52

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

US President Joe Biden urged world leaders to "step up" as he announced plans to cut US emissions in half by 2030 to tackle climate change.

Speaking while hosting the Leaders Summit on Climate Change on Wednesday, Mr Biden said the USA would be taking action to resolve the climate emergency.

He said: "The signs are unmistakeable, the science is undeniable. The cost of inaction keeps mounting.

"The United States isn't waiting, we are resolving to take action, not only our federal government but our cities and our states all across our country, small business, large corporations, American workers in every field," he added.

This announcement almost doubles the nation's previous commitment, and will require significant changes to be made in the power and transportation sectors.

Mr Biden said the US represented 15% of the world's emissions and that no nation can solve the crisis on its own.

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"All of us, particularly those who represent the world's largest economies, we have to step up.

"Those that do take action and make bold investments in their people, in clean energy futures, will win the good jobs of tomorrow and make their economies more resilient and more competitive."

Among US measures to be used to reduce emissions by 50% are a "carbon border adjustment", that would tax imports from countries that do not have similar emissions controls.

He said scientists underlined "this is the decisive decade" where decisions had to be made to avoid the worst excesses of climate change by keeping temperature rises to 1.5C (2.7F).

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President Joe Biden speaks to the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate
President Joe Biden speaks to the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate. Picture: PA

Mr Biden told the summit: "This is a moral imperative, it's an economic imperative. It's a moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibility.

"Time is short, but I believe we can do this, and I believe we will do this."

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres warned that global temperature rises were "facing towards the threshold of catastrophe" and told the summit: "We are at the verge of the abyss. We must make sure the next step is in the right direction."

He called for a global coalition for net zero emissions by mid century by "every country, every region, every city, every company and every industry".

He warned: "The trillions of dollars needed for Covid-19 recovery is money we are borrowing from future generations.

"We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden them with a mountain of debt on a broken planet."

He called for steps including a price on carbon, ending subsidies for fossil fuels and ramping up investments in renewable energy.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has called for a "people-centred" approach to the climate crisis at a leaders' summit hosted by US President Joe Biden.

President Xi said: "We must treat nature as our root, respect it, protect it and follow its laws, we should protect nature and preserve the environment like we protect our eyes.

"Second, we must be committed to green development - green mountains are gold mountains, to protect the environment is to protect productivity and to boost the environment is to boost productivity.

"The truth is as simple as that."

He added: "We must be committed to a people-centred approach, the environment concerns the wellbeing of people in all countries, we need to take into full account people's desire for a better quality of life and good environment as well as our responsibility for future generations."

The UK has already announced it will cut its emissions by 78% by 2035. It will host COP26 climate talks in Glasgow later in the year.