United States: Five takeaways from Biden’s leadership climate summit
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Like today, Friday April 23, 2021, marks the conclusion of the Leaders Climate Summit, we note five points to remember.
1. Climate diplomacy was the Summit’s big winner
The ability of the Biden-Harris administration to summon more than 40 world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, for a constructive conversation on climate change is a significant achievement in these times of heightened political tensions. The United States has criticized and sanctioned the leaders of both countries for their role in cyber attacks, election interference and human rights abuses, and Biden has called China is the “most serious competitor” of the United States. Despite these tensions, China has announced that it will accelerate the phase-down of coal, and President Xi and President Putin both expressed a desire for international cooperation in their summit remarks – modest but important progress nonetheless.
China’s statements build on the relentless efforts of John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, who successfully negotiated a very forward-thinking approach. joint statement with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, in Shanghai last week, who called climate change a “crisis” –a first for China– and expressed a shared “urgency” to “strengthen their respective actions”.
2. America’s new NDC is ambitious, but is it achievable?
Administration commitment to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50-52% by 2030 – this is the new US ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ (NDC) under Paris Agreement – builds heavily on President Obama’s initial NDC of 26-28% by 2025. To achieve this goal, the Biden-Harris administration suggests that the United States will rely on regulation aggressive mobile and stationary sources and will leverage action in key states. While we hoped that the NDC’s announcement would provide more clarity on how the administration plans to deliver on the pledge, credible studies from the America is all in coalition and Energy innovation show that the NDC is workable, but forces Congress to pass new legislation – a tall order given the narrow partisan divide.
3. The United States’ international climate finance plan has changed dramatically
On Earth Day, President Biden released the United States International Climate Finance Plan “as a signal to other governments, international institutions and stakeholders that the United States intends to work closely with them to deploy climate finance more effectively and with the greatest impact.” The Plan, which constitutes the “American strategic vision for international climate finance by 2025”, covers five areas: (i) intensify climate finance and strengthen its impact; (ii) mobilization of financing from the private sector; (iii) end international financing of carbon-intensive fossil fuel energies, except for projects for which the United States finds a “compelling reason for development or national security” for continued support; (iv) make capital flows consistent with low emission and climate resilient pathways; and (v) define, measure and report on US public climate finance. Here are some highlights:
- By 2024, the United States intends to double its annual public climate funding to developing countries compared to what the United States provided during the second half of the Obama administration, while tripling the US adaptation funding.
- The Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will move its portfolio to net zero emissions by 2040, including increasing investment in carbon capture and storage projects, and “will soon be calling for applications for the funds. investment and other climate-related investments. opportunities in partnership with aligned organizations. “
- The Treasury Department, in partnership with other countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “will lead efforts to … reorient the financing of carbon-intensive activities.”
4. The world wants a meaningful carbon price
Many world leaders and other Summit participants stressed that a meaningful carbon price is needed to catalyze the level of innovation and investment needed to meet the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement. Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said the biggest step governments can take this decade is to embrace a robust carbon price coupled with the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies – a point echoed by the first New Zealand Minister Jacinda Ardern. Georgieva further called for an agreement between G20 countries on carbon pricing, for example by setting a carbon floor price, arguing that such an agreement would protect industries in those countries from trade wars that could result from the imposition of border carbon adjustments.
Elsewhere on carbon pricing, President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Explain that the current price of forest carbon offsets, “at $ 5 per tonne, is neither fair nor realistic”. Instead, President Tshisekedi argued that a “fair price for forest carbon … should be at least $ 100 per tonne”. Even Russia has engaged in carbon pricing, with President Putin noting in his remarks that the Russian region of Sakhalin has launched a pilot cap-and-trade system in order to achieve carbon neutrality in the region from here. 2025.
5. The Summit achieved its main objective: to strengthen the climate ambition of major economies
Several countries, including Canada, Japan and Brazil, have announced greater commitments to reduce domestic emissions and take other action to combat climate change. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to reduce emissions by 40-45% by 2030 from 2005 levels, a significant increase from his previous pledge of 30%. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Japan will reduce its emissions by 46% by 2030 from 2013 levels, increasing its previous commitment to a 26% reduction. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, after criticizing efforts to protect forests and threatening to withdraw from the Paris Agreement these last years.
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