The President of the United States Joe Biden opened the virtual climate summit on Earth Day, Apr. 22.
The two-day long Leaders Summit on Climate happened on Apr. 22 and Apr. 23 aims to rally countries to address climate climate in a coordinated manner.
40 world leaders, including significant contributors to global carbon emission, attended the summit.
Top officials, executives and global figures like Pope Francis, Greta Thunberg and Bill Gates also made speeches during the summit.
US to halve emissions by 2030
At the summit, Biden said that the U.S. will aim to achieve a 50 to 52 per cent reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions in 2030.
This new target is much more ambitious than the one that the U.S. pledged in 2014 — that is a 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2025.
He also committed to double the amount of yearly monetary assistance to developing countries by 2024. The money will be used to support the efforts of developing nations in combatting climate change.
These add on to Biden's existing goal of creating a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
Biden: Tackling climate change brings job opportunities
Notably, Biden has also highlighted the economic and job opportunities in addressing climate change. He said in his opening remarks:
"The United States isn’t waiting. We are resolving to take action — not only the — our federal government, but our cities and our states all across our country; small businesses, large businesses, large corporations; American workers in every field.
I see an opportunity to create millions of good-paying, middle-class, union jobs."
This is echoed by Vice-President Kamala Harris in her opening speech:
"Here, we believe tackling climate change, improving communities, and creating jobs can occur simultaneously."
China: Carbon peak by 2030 requires "extraordinary hard efforts"
Currently, the top three carbon emitting countries are China, the U.S. and India, according to the most recent available data.
At the summit, the President of China Xi Jinping repeated China's 2020 plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060.
While China's climate policy remained unchanged, Xi did add that China will transit towards a reduction in coal usage in 2026. It is currently the world's largest coal producer and consumer.
Xi said, "China has committed to move from carbon peak to carbon neutrality in a much shorter timespan than what might take many developed countries, and that requires extraordinarily hard efforts from China."
India: "Doing our part"
Like China, India did not ramp up their climate actions and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi reiterated the country's renewable energy target of 450 gigawatts by 2030.
Even though India is the third highest carbon emitter, Modi argued that "India’s per capita carbon footprint is 60 per cent lower than the global average" and "[they] are doing [their] part".
India and the U.S. also launched an energy and climate partnership at the summit.
UK aims to slash emissions by 78 per cent by 2035
Notably, the United Kingdom seems to have the most ambitious plan by far with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's declaration to reduce emissions by 78 per cent, as compared to 1990 levels, in 14 years' time or by 2035.
Johnson who announced this goal three days before the climate summit even urged other world leaders to match the UK's targets. He said:
“If we actually want to stop climate change, then this must be the year in which we get serious about doing so. Because the 2020s will be remembered either as the decade in which world leaders united to turn the tide, or as a failure.”
That said, environmentalists in the UK were uncertain if the government can actually achieve this goal as the ministers have been failing to achieve previous climate targets, BBC reported.
Brazil aims to end illegal deforestation by 2030
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, ten years ahead of his initial target.
Bolsonaro also sought international funding of one billion dollars to support environmental protection and conservation efforts as he pledged to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030.
This was, however, met with skepticism. Under Bolsonaro, who took office in 2019, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has soared and hit a 12-year high in 2020.
Other countries like Japan and Canada were relatively modest in their goals, aiming to reduce emissions by at least 46 per cent and 40 to 45 per cent respectively. Russia, the fourth highest carbon emitter, vaguely pledged to reduce emissions "significantly", the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, said that the country will be responsible for its international commitments.
Top image via screenshots of Sky News/YouTube