The Biden administration said today it will commit to slash climate pollution by 50-52% below 2005 emissions levels by 2030. The updated “Nationally Determined Contribution” under the Paris agreement is stronger than the Obama administration’s pledge of 26-28% emissions reduction by 2025, but is still less ambitious than pledges made by the UK and EU, despite the fact that the U.S. is by far the largest historic emitter and has the highest per-capita emissions to date.
The Biden administration has not yet released a detailed roadmap for achieving the target, but White House officials said in a briefing call that meeting this target will require steep and rapid reductions in oil, gas, and coal use by nearly every sector of the economy. According to Climate Action Tracker, the new NDC is not sufficient to meet the cuts needed to hold global warming below 2.7°F (1.5°C), but is “well on the way.”
The administration — through diplomatic efforts, executive actions, and its push for climate-friendly infrastructure legislation — has sought to reestablish American credibility in the international climate arena, hosting a (virtual) summit of 40 world leaders this week to press forward on climate action. “Those are the things that I would say to other world leaders if they come back and say, ‘Well, why should we think that this time is different?’” Nate Hultman, who worked on Obama’s climate pledge and now directs the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, told Politico. “The answer is it is actually different.” (Politico, Washington Post $, Bloomberg $, CNN, HuffPost, New York Times $, NPR, USA Today $, Reuters, CBS, NBC; New York Times Interactive; Climate Nexus Backgrounder)