Home From The Sidelines The US Hosts 2021 Leaders Summit on Climate

The US Hosts 2021 Leaders Summit on Climate

After the former President Donald Trump pulled the United States of America (US) out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the climate leadership credentials of the US took a hit. With the Leaders Summit on Climate, the newly appointed Biden administration seems to indicate that the US will continue the fight against global climate change.

As soon as he took office, US President Biden issued a declaration that the US will rejoin the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Soon after, he also announced that he will arrange a summit with world leaders to “galvanize efforts by the major economies” to tackle climate change. From April 22, 2021  to April 23, 2021, the Biden Administration hosted 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate. The 2 day summit was a key event leading to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Summit convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF). Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate was first convened during George W. Bush Administration. The 17 MEF economies are the world’s 17 largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters. 

40 world leaders, including from India, China, Australia, Bangladesh, France, Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), Japan, Russia etc participated in the SUmmit. The leaders from vulnerable to climate impacts were also present in the Summit.

As per the press statement released by the White House, the key themes of the Summit were:

  • “Galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach.
  • Mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts. 
  • The economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy.
  • Spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.
  • Showcasing subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience.
  • Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net zero by 2050 goals.”

During the Summit, the US President Biden announced that the US will halve its greenhouse gas emissions within this decade. To fulfill this commitment, the US submitted a new “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement setting an economy-wide emissions target of a 50-52% reduction below 2005 levels in 2030.

Other countries also made following announcements as follows:

JapanCut emissions 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50% reduction, a significant acceleration from its existing 26% reduction goal
Canada Will strengthen its NDC to a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, a significant increase over its previous target to reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030
India Reiterated target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the “U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership” to mobilize finance and speed clean energy innovation and deployment this decade
Argentina Strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions, and end illegal deforestation
The United KingdomEmbed in law a 78% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2035
The European UnionEnacting a law to target the goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050
The Republic of KoreaWill terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its NDC this year to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal. Korea will host the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit in May
ChinaWill join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption
BrazilTo achieve net zero by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030, and double funding for deforestation enforcement
South Africa To strengthen its NDC and shift its intended emissions peak year ten years earlier to 2025
RussiaNoted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals. It also highlighted the importance of methane and called for international collaboration to address this powerful greenhouse gas.

(Source: Leaders Summit on Climate Summary of Proceedings, 23 April 2021)

Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate and Other Initiatives

The US and United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced plans to launch the “Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate” during the Summit. The initiative was endorsed by the UK COP 26 Presidency, and received support from Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay. The AIM will be formally launched at the COP26 in November 2021.

“The United States is proud to be pioneering the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate initiative along with the United Arab Emirates and several other supportive partners. I was impressed by the ingenuity being applied to food and climate challenges during my recent trip to the UAE, and know that we all stand to benefit by sharing best practices and raising innovation ambition when it comes to climate-smart agriculture. AIM for Climate can serve as a unique platform for cooperation among many countries on these shared challenges,” said US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

The US also announced a slew of other initiatives like Global Climate Ambition Initiative, Greening Government Initiative, Establishing a Net-Zero Producers Forum, Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure etc.

Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT) an initiative of Sweden and India which aims to gather countries aiming to speed up innovation in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership

US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership was launched at the Summit. The initiative will support India’s climate targets including reaching 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. As per the statement released by White House, the initiative aims to “mobilize finance” and “speed clean energy deployment”.
“Led by Prime Minister Modi and President Biden, the Partnership will represent one of the core venues for India-US collaboration and focus on driving urgent progress in this critical decade for climate action,” read the joint statement released by the US and India on April 22.