Energy & Environment

Countries roll out 2030 Paris Accord goals amid US absence

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China, the United Kingdom and the European Union all laid out goals to achieve greater emission reductions as part of the Paris climate accord over the weekend at what was likely the last United Nations climate summit without a U.S. presence.

The three powers all vowed to make greater emissions reductions by 2030 during the summit, which marked the fifth anniversary of the global climate accord.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make the nation the “Saudi Arabia of wind power” as part of its goal to cut its emissions by 68 percent by 2030.

The European Union laid out its vision for reducing emissions by 50 percent by the same year.

China, which has been frequently criticized by Republicans in particular for not doing more on climate change, promised to reduce its carbon emissions by 65 percent relative to its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030. 

“In meeting the climate challenge, no one can be aloof and unilateralism will get us nowhere,” President Xi Jinping told the conference by video.

President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris accord, but President-elect Joe Biden has promised to bring the U.S. back to the agreement.

In a statement, Biden reiterated his promise to join the agreement on Day 1 of his presidency. His climate plan would put the U.S on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 

“I’ll immediately start working with my counterparts around the world to do all that we possibly can, including by convening the leaders of major economies for a climate summit within my first 100 days in office,” he said.

“We’ll do all of this knowing that we have before us an enormous economic opportunity to create jobs and prosperity at home and export clean American-made products around the world, harnessing our climate ambition in a way that is good for American workers and the U.S. economy.”

At home, some Trump administration officials bashed the deal.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler noted the U.S. “didn’t receive an invitation to the U.N. climate summit” after Trump formally left the accord this November and boasted of U.S emissions reductions.

“Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord would be a disaster and put us at a strategic disadvantage — especially with China who emits far more greenhouse gases and isn’t required to reduce its emissions until at least 2030,” Wheeler wrote on Twitter.

The 2030 goals announced at the summit are part of many countries’ broader efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Xi’s comments at the summit followed a commitment earlier this year to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060.

The Chinese plan unveiled Saturday does not require its emission to peak by 2025, as some had hoped. And by tracking emissions with its GDP, the country would allow its emissions to grow along with its economy. But it does put the country on track to triple its wind and solar capacity and to expand its forests.

Biden has tapped former Secretary of State John Kerry to spearhead his climate efforts, including any Paris dealings.

“Yes, it’s simple for the United States to rejoin” the Paris accord, Kerry told NPR this week.

“But it’s not so simple for the United States to regain its credibility,” he added. “And I think we have to approach this challenge with some humility and with a very significant effort by the United States to show that we are serious.”

Tags Andrew Wheeler China Climate Summit Donald Trump European Union Joe Biden John Kerry Paris Accords Russia

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