President Biden’s first 100 days in office wrapped up with historic new commitments from the U.S. and other global leaders to sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. But the future prospects of solidifying the steps needed to cut domestic emissions remain murky at best on Capitol Hill.
As part of the two-day Climate Leaders Summit Biden convened with 40 world leaders, the Biden administration announced it would set a goal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions as much as 52% from 2005 levels by 2030. That’s about double the Obama administration’s pledge to cut emissions up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The world’s top emitter, China, did not announce any new climate targets during the summit but committed for the first time to phase down its coal use later this decade. China President Xi Jinping also reiterated China’s existing pledges to begin reducing its emissions before 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060, while vowing that China will “strictly limit” its increase in coal consumption over the first half of this decade and “phase it down” over the 2026-2030 period. China and the U.S. also released a joint statement expressing climate cooperation.
Other nations announced new steps at the summit:
- Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro contrasted his past attitude toward climate change by vowing to end illegal deforestation in the country by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050
- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the country will curb emissions 46% by 2030 compared to 2013 levels. The U.S. and Japan also started a bilateral initiative that includes consultations between the two countries on 2030 national emissions targets and partnerships to develop low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen and advanced nuclear power.
- Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they will slash emissions 40% to 45% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels
- Russian President Vladimir Putin broadly vowed to “significantly” reduce emissions over the next three decades
- South Korea President Moon Jae-in promised to end all public financing for overseas coal-fired power plants and said the nation has stopped issuing permits for new domestic coal plants and is increasing wind and solar production
- India Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t provide a new target but reconfirmed the country’s plan to install 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 and announced an India-U.S. Climate and Clean Energy Agenda Partnership for 2030. India is the world’s third largest emitter behind China and the U.S.
BIDEN COMMITS TO ACCELERATING CLIMATE ADAPTATION FUNDING: Biden also committed to doubling the funding the U.S. offers developing countries to help curb climate change within the next three years. The U.S. also intends to triple its funding to global climate adaptation efforts by 2024. But Biden will have to work with skeptical Republicans in Congress to meet funding levels.
EPA SEES JULY TAILPIPE RULE: EPA Administrator Michael Regan has also vowed to unveil tougher rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by the end of July, in another major reversal from the Trump administration.
BIDEN, GOP FAR FROM CLIMATE DEAL: Back on Capitol Hill, a deal seems far away on the Biden administration’s move to make historic investments in clean energy and climate initiatives as part of a broader $2.2 trillion infrastructure strategy. Senate Republicans so far have countered with a $568-billion proposal that some Democrats quickly labeled as a non-starter. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who has backed efforts on technologies to capture carbon from coal and other fossil fuel facilities, noted that she expected the two sides to discuss climate proposals as part of a compromise.
Biden’s first budget proposal to Congress also includes $14 billion more above the prior year’s levels for climate change-related spending. That includes more than $10 billion for “clean energy innovation.” But while it is a 180-degree turn from the Trump administration’s requests to slash climate spending, Congress could also end up largely ignoring Biden’s proposal when it settles on spending bill compromises in the coming months.
BIDEN CABINET CONFIRMATIONS CONTINUE: Meanwhile, members of Biden’s climate and energy cabinet continue to make their way through Senate confirmation. Biden’s pick for deputy EPA administrator, Janet McCabe, is on track to be confirmed this week on a likely near-party line vote.
Brenda Mallory was confirmed in April as the first Black chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, 53-45. Mallory will oversee a review that has already started changes the Trump administration implemented to relax federal environmental permitting for large projects.