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Biden’s Earth Day Summit Aims for Reset on Climate Change

Biden's Earth Day Summit Aims for Reset on Climate Change

A "coming-out party for the United States on climate change."

That's how University of Maryland Center for Global Sustainability Director Nathan Hultman describes the virtual summit President Joe Biden is hosting with dozens of world leaders April 22-23.

After four years of disregard for the issue under former President Donald Trump, the summit will be "an opportunity for the U.S. to come back onto the scene to show it is taking climate change seriously," said David Waskow, International Climate Initiative director at the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental research and advocacy group.

The White House said it will announce an "ambitious" 2030 target for greenhouse gas emissions before the summit.

Advocates are calling for a 50% cut from 2005 levels, a "highly ambitious but still achievable" goal, Hultman said.

And it would show other major polluters that the largest cumulative contributor to global warming is ready to take action.

"Certainly China is looking to see what the United States is going to do," Waskow said. "We know that some of these other countries — Japan, South Korea, Canada, India — are watching to see how the United States will move."

Make or break

The stakes are rising. Many experts say the 2020s are a make-or-break decade.

Averaged over the entire globe, temperatures have increased more than 1.1 degree Celsius since 1880. Scientists link the increase to more severe heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms and other impacts. And they note that the rate of temperature rise has accelerated since the 1980s.

World leaders agreed to limit global warming to "well below" 2C in the 2015 U.N. Paris climate agreement, and to aim for 1.5C.

But the world is currently on track for 3C of warming, which experts say would be catastrophic.

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