In honor of Earth Day 2021, President Joe Biden is holding a massive virtual climate summit featuring talks from about 40 world leaders, which is being streamed live throughout the day. In his own speech at the Earth Day summit, the POTUS set a new climate commitment for his country — Biden promised to halve U.S. emissions by 2030.
Keep reading to learn more about what this commitment will entail, and to learn about the controversial deal to reduce Amazon deforestation Biden is considering entering with Brazil.
Biden has pledged to halve U.S. emissions by 2030.
During the live streamed summit on Thursday, April 22, Biden stated that the U.S. is setting a goal to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by between 50 percent and 52 percent by the year 2030, as per The Guardian.
“By maintaining those investments and putting these people to work, the United States sets out on the road to cut greenhouse gases in half — in half — by the end of this decade,” Biden said at the virtual summit. “That’s where we’re headed as a nation.”
Biden plans to create green jobs to bolster the economy and environment.
The investments in question, which Biden detailed in his speech, primarily refer to the creation of millions of jobs — jobs that will simultaneously benefit the economy, the environment, and the workforce.
These jobs include line workers laying transmission lines for clean energy projects, capping hundreds of thousands of abandoned and orphaned oil wells, and reclaiming coal mines; auto workers building electric vehicles; electricians installing 500,000 EV charging stations nationwide; engineers and construction workers building new carbon capture and green hydrogen plants; and farmers adopting eco-friendly farming practices.
“That’s what we can do if we take action to build an economy that’s not only more prosperous, but healthier, fairer, and cleaner for the entire planet,” Biden continued, referring to this new goal. “These steps will set America on a path of [a] net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.”
He then went on to point out that the world’s other largest economies and nations need to step up if we really want to make a significant difference and halt the climate crisis. “Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade. This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” Biden told the audience.
While achieving these goals would certainly be positive, climate activists from Extinction Rebellion DC don't think these promises are enough to truly save humanity from the climate crisis. So, as seen in the above photo, on the morning of Earth Day, they staged a protest by dumping cow manure — in response to Biden’s “bulls--t” climate plan — near the White House, Washingtonian reported.
Environmentalists are skeptical of Brazil’s new climate goals.
Many other world leaders who spoke at the Earth Day summit also announced new climate pledges — but none were as controversial as those from Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
At the summit, Bolsonaro announced a plan to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030, which he claimed would slash Brazil’s emissions in half, according to The New York Times. Shortly before Earth Day, Bolsonaro formally asked the U.S. government for $1 billion, in exchange for Brazil pledging to reduce Amazon deforestation by 40 percent.
According to Reuters, various Indigenous and environmental groups, who have criticized Bolsonaro throughout his term as president for failing to adequately protect the Amazon rainforest, are strongly against entering a deal with Bolsonaro’s administration, as it would “legitimize” them and give them too much power. Celebrities including Alec Baldwin, Orlando Bloom, Rosario Dawson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda, Joaquin Phoenix, Katy Perry, and Mark Ruffalo even co-signed an open letter written by a coalition of these groups to Biden, urging him not to take the offer.
The Brazilian federal government has spent the last few years encouraging the development of the Amazon, ignoring environmental protection laws in pursuit of profit, and disrespecting the Indigenous people who call the Amazon home. So paying them $1 billion — without any true guarantee that the money will really go towards carbon capture efforts, as Bolsonaro claims it would — is not the right thing to do, the letter argues.