April 23, 2021
On April 22, Earth Day, President Joe Biden signaled his Administration’s intention to set aside four years of retrograde national policy by formally pledging the United States to reducing its carbon emissions by at least half (of 2005 levels) over the next decade, Slate reports.
During the opening of a two-day climate summit of world leaders, announced and virtually hosted by the White House, Biden framed the issue not just as a moral obligation, but an economic opportunity, saying, “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” Biden said from the White House. “This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative— a moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.”
In 2019—the most recent year for which complete data are available—U.S. emissions came in roughly 13% below 2005 levels, according to the EPA.
To provide another angle on how far the U.S. still needs to go to reduce its carbon footprint, last year, when much the country essentially did nothing at all—drove less, flew less, moved less—U.S. emissions were barely down.
In fact, Slate notes, U.S. emissions are still only projected to be down less than a quarter—roughly 21 %—for the year compared to the 2005 baseline. Even before four years of Trump, America had a lot of work to do to meet its emission targets. When former President Barack Obama signed the United States on to the Paris accord in 2016, the outgoing Obama administration pledged a 28% reduction in emissions levels by 2025.
“Administration officials said they see multiple paths toward achieving their goals, through a combination of federal policies and action by states, companies and other subnational groups,” The Wall Street Journal reports, adding,. “Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package that includes measures to reduce emissions, such as a proposed standard mandating that the country’s electricity be produced with low-carbon energy sources.”
According to Slate, American climate leadership faces domestic opposition from Republicans, who say that say it’s unfair for the U.S.A. to have to make sometimes difficult cuts, with economic consequences, if other developing nations—most importantly, China—don’t have to do the same.
Research contact: @Slate