Biden Hosts Earth Day Climate Summit
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China and the United States made some climate change agreements in advance of last week's Earth Day Summit.

Biden Hosts Earth Day Climate Summit

On Friday April 23, 2021, in honor of Earth Day, President Biden hosted a virtual global summit to discuss climate change with other world leaders. Here, Election Central takes a closer look at what was said at the summit and where the United States plans to go from here.

New Reports on Rising Temperatures

On April 8, 2021, the U.S. intelligence agencies released two documents that paint a grim picture of the current state of climate change. The National Intelligence Council released its Global Trends report. This report stated that in the next twenty years, the world will likely exceed the Paris Agreement’s warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius and that every country on Earth will be impacted as a result. This may lead to widespread instability and political discord. The U.S. intelligence community’s Annual Threat Assessment reported on April 9, 2021 that 2020 tied for the hottest year on record.

A Pre-Summit Agreement

In advance of the Earth Day summit, the U.S. and China made an agreement to cooperate with each other and with other countries on climate change. This is critical because the U.S. and China are the world’s two biggest carbon polluters (China ranks first and the U.S. ranks  second. Together, the two nations are responsible for almost half of world’s total carbon emissions.)

The agreement was orchestrated by the U.S. special envoy for climate, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and Xie Zhenhua, who holds the same position in China. Both countries have committed to develop long-term strategies for reducing carbon emissions. China and the U.S. also agreed to help support the transition to cleaner energy in developing countries. China has agreed to stop its increase of carbon emissions in the air by 2030 and also set a goal to be carbon-neutral by 2060. China also agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 18 percent over the next five years. Biden’s stated target is for the United States to be entirely emissions-free by 2050.

A Global Commitment

The virtual Earth Day summit brought forty other world leaders to discuss the climate change issue. At the summit, President Biden announced that the U.S. is committed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions to half of its 2005 levels by 2030. His administration also said it was committed to doubling the money promised to help developing countries transition to clean energy by 2024. Overall, the amount of money committed to international climate finance will jump from $2.5 billion per year currently, to an estimated $5.7 billion per year. The U.S. is also prioritizing the importance of climate change by placing it at the center of its foreign policy. Addressing climate climate change will also become a priority for U.S. intelligence agencies. For example, the CIA will add a new category to its World Factbook that provides the latest data on climate, air pollutants, food security, and more.

The next United Nations climate summit will take place in November in Glasgow, Scotland.

What Do You Think? Does the Biden administration’s recent commitment to addressing climate change go far enough? Too far? Explain.
Valerie Cumming

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