Energy & Environment

Biden demands collective action at White House climate summit

President Biden on Thursday called for collective action to combat climate change, saying the global community has no choice but to act to confront “the existential crisis of our time.”

“No nation can solve this crisis on our own,” Biden said from the White House during the start of a virtual summit convened with 40 world leaders on climate change. “All of us, particularly those of us who represent the world’s largest economies, we have to step up.”

“This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative. A moment of peril but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities,” Biden continued. “Time is short, but I believe we can do this and I believe that we will do this.” 

“We really have no choice, we have to get this done,” he added. 

Biden argued that countries who followed the lead of his administration in making investments to address climate change would make their economies “more resilient and competitive,” thereby reaping the benefits in the future. 

The summit, which is taking place on Earth Day, represents a major test for Biden to convince the global community to get behind a coordinated push to address climate change. 

While Biden has held other meetings with global leaders, the summit is by far the most high-profile diplomatic meeting the president has held since taking office in January. 

The White House is using the event to announce updated emissions targets in the U.S.: cutting emissions by 50 to 52 percent by the end of the decade when compared to 2005 levels. 

Biden also plugged his $2.25 trillion infrastructure and climate package unveiled earlier this month, which calls for robust investments in electric vehicles, removing lead pipes and modernizing the electric grid, among other things.

“When people talk about climate, I think jobs. Within our climate response lies an extraordinary engine of job creation and economic opportunity, ready to be fired up,”  he said. “That’s why I’ve proposed a huge investment in American infrastructure and American innovation.”

Biden’s call for swift and collective action was echoed by other senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

“As a global community, it is imperative that we act quickly and together to confront this crisis. And this will require innovation and collaboration all around the world,” Harris said. The vice president also emphasized that climate change most adversely impacts communities who are disadvantaged by wealth and gender inequality, underscoring the Biden administration’s focus on equity in addressing issues not limited to climate change.

“We must recognize the importance of justice in what we do,” Harris said. 

Blinken added that climate change is an area where countries can work together. 

“We want every country here to know we want to work with you to save our planet and we’re all committed to finding every possible avenue of cooperation on climate,” he said. 

“There are many issues on which we don’t all see eye to eye; this isn’t one of them,” he added. 

Laura Kelly contributed.

Tags Antony Blinken Joe Biden
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