Apr 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

All the new emissions targets announced at Biden’s climate summit

President Biden during the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22.

President Biden during the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22. Photo: Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

Multiple world leaders announced new targets for reducing greenhouse gases during President Biden's virtual climate summit, which featured more than 40 heads of state and other world and business leaders.

Why it matters: The goal of the summit is to spur more ambitious emissions reductions through non-binding commitments, bringing the world in line with the global warming goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

What's new

United States: Biden said the U.S. would seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels, roughly twice as ambitious as the previous target of a 26%-28% cut by 2025 set during the Obama administration.

  • “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” Biden said. “The countries that take decisive actions now will be the ones that reap the clean energy benefits of the boom that’s coming.”
  • The ambitious goal would require greatly accelerating the transition of U.S. power, industry and transportation to cleaner energy sources and greater efficiency, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would increase its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% to 45% of its 2005 levels by 2030, and pledged that the country would achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

  • "Canada understands that if you don’t have a plan to tackle climate change, then you don’t have a plan to create jobs and economic growth. Canada is a committed partner in the global fight against climate change, and together we will build a cleaner and more prosperous future for all," Trudeau said.
  • Canada has lagged behind other G7 countries in its climate targets, in part because of its need to balance support for its oil and gas sector with a need to cut emissions.

Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Japan would cut its emissions by 46% from 2013 levels by 2030. He added that the country would fully achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

  • “It will not be easy. In order to achieve the target, we will firmly implement concrete measures, while aiming to create a positive cycle that links the economy and environment and achieve strong growth," Suga said.
  • The new emissions target may require Japan to restart more nuclear power plants while retiring coal plants, which the population may be wary of in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011.

South Korea: President Moon Jae-in said South Korea will end all new public financing for overseas coal projects, and will submit new emissions targets later this year.

  • “To become carbon neutral, it is imperative for the world to scale down coal-fired power plants,” Moon said, though he noted that developing countries relying on coal “should be given due consideration and access to proper support."

Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, one decade earlier than the country's previous net-zero commitment.

  • Yes, but: Illegal deforestation in the Amazon is primarily driven by agriculture. The practice has soared under Bolsonaro's administration, and since the new commitment is non-binding, there's reason to doubt the government will achieve the new goal.
  • Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao recently told Reuters that the country would have to reduce illegal deforestation by up to 20% per year through 2030 in order to reach the target.

Of note: Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country — the world's largest consumer of coal — will attempt to "strictly limit increasing coal consumption” over the next five years, according to the New York Times.

  • China and India — the world's second largest consumer of coal — made no new climate commitments Thursday but repeated previous pledges.
  • India and the U.S. also announced a new partnership on clean energy and climate.

This story will be updated with new pledges.

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