© AFP Jim WATSON
Administration is looking to assert U.S. leadership on climate policy amid tensions with China
By Andrew Restuccia, Timothy Puko in Washington and Sha Hua in Hong Kong – The Wall Street Journal.
President Biden is expected this week to call for cutting U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions roughly in half by 2030, according to people familiar with the matter, as he pushes to jump-start global efforts to tackle climate change.
Mr. Biden will release the new goal during a summit at the White House on Thursday and Friday, part of an effort to assert global leadership on climate issues amid tensions with China. The new target seeks to reduce over the next nine years emissions by 50% from levels in 2005. Emissions last year were already projected to be down 21% from that 2005 baseline, due in part to a slowdown related to the pandemic. But this year, emissions are tracking higher again as the economy recovers.
Mr. Biden has invited 40 world leaders to the event, a group that comprises European allies and some autocrats from U.S. rivals that are among the world’s biggest emitters and fossil-fuel producers, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House has noted that invitees include 17 countries responsible for about 80% of all global emissions, an effort to supercharge ambitions going into negotiations scheduled for November to raise targets for reducing emissions.
Some developing countries are expected to use the summit to urge wealthier nations to help finance efforts to reduce emissions and to adapt to the effects of a warming planet. Brazil has asked the Biden administration for $1 billion in exchange for it reducing deforestation by 40%. India, meantime, has also stressed to the U.S. the importance of industrialized countries making good on pledges to mobilize as much as $100 billion a year in support of similar efforts.
Mr. Biden is facing pressure to convince other nations and his Republican opponents at home that he can get China to commit to more ambitious efforts to slash emissions.
“Unless China stops its uninhibited growth of emissions, anything we do will be offset fourfold by the Chinese,” said Rep. Garret Graves (R., La.), the top Republican on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
The Biden administration seeks to show the U.S. is committed to lowering emissions after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. The new target will likely be seen by other nations and environmental groups as ambitious, said advocates, some of whom had briefed the White House in recent weeks on data arguing that the 50% target is achievable.
“That’s the kind of number that they’re going to need to be credible in the international community,” said Heather Zichal, chief executive of the American Clean Power Association, a trade group, who was a top climate adviser to President Barack Obama.
A White House official declined to comment on the target on Tuesday night, adding that it had not been completed.
Mr. Biden’s emissions target is certain to face criticism from GOP lawmakers and some in the business community who worry that the administration’s climate policies could harm the economy. Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) criticized the Paris agreement this week, arguing it “disproportionately penalizes American workers.”