/ 23 April 2021

Biden pushes for global climate action

US President Joe Biden kicked off the 2-day virtual Climate Summit last night with a bang, pledging to cut US greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. He is hosting 40 world leaders – including all the big powers/emitters such as China, Russia, the UK, India and the European Union – for a virtual gathering to talk about all things climate change. And of course, it just happened to start on Earth Day.

You could say that… Biden’s victory over Donald Trump last year was widely seen as a climate change “game-changer”. The summit is a chance for the US to hit reset on its climate efforts after the Trump administration pulled the pin on the Paris climate accord (an agreement Biden rejoined on the 1st day of his presidency). With just over 6 months before countries meet in Glasgow for the UN’s annual climate summit, Biden will nudge his fellow summiteers to commit to more radical emissions targets. Overnight, Japan and Canada raised their targets to 46% and 40-45% by 2030, respectively, and the UK is also on board, having already announced it will cut carbon dioxide by 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels. And let’s not forget the agreements made between China and the US – the world’s 2 biggest carbon polluters – early this week.

He did. After a technical “you’re on mute” glitch, PM Scott Morrison made no new pledges and said Australia was “on the pathway” to net-zero emissions through new technologies. Unlike other countries, Australia has not set a concrete deadline to achieve net-zero emissions, and that’s fuelled a long-standing view from abroad that the nation has been laggard on climate change action. Morrison has pushed the idea the goal will be achieved through improvements to technology and industry. That’s something he has pledged another $565.8m towards in the upcoming May budget. Earlier this week, Shadow Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen accused Morrison of making Australia an “outlier” on the world stage.

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