Scientists say that if US President-elect Joe Biden plans to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, the world will once again have the chance to curb climate change
The election of Democratic Joe Biden as the next US president puts the world ‘within striking distance’ for the first time to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a major international goal.
Unlike Donald Trump on climate change, which last week lifted his country out of the Paris climate agreement, Biden has made limiting emissions from planetary warming a priority and plans to put the economy on an “irreversible path” to net. to place zero. emissions by the middle of the century.
Biden has promised to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement as soon as he takes office at the end of January – a process that will take about a month. His team’s transfer website also says he ‘goes much further than that’.
“He’s working to make an effort to increase every major country’s ambition of their domestic climate goals,” the website noted, which went online after the race was asked for Biden over the weekend.
It did not provide further details. But Biden’s election campaign plan said he would convene a ‘climate world summit’ during his first hundred days in office to directly involve the leaders of the major nations in greenhouse gas emissions to persuade them to join the United States. to make more ambitious national promises “.
Climate analysts expect that Biden’s presidency will not only give global climate diplomacy a shot in the arm, but also offer the world a realistic chance of meeting the Paris Treaty’s most ambitious 1.5C warming limit.
Scientists have said it is essential to protect humans, economies and ecosystems from worse floods, droughts, storms and sea level rises than the temperature of just over 1C.
Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, a partner organization in the independent Research Action Tracker (CAT) research project, said Biden’s victory could be a historic turning point.
With Biden’s election, China, the United States, the European Union, Japan and South Korea – representing two-thirds of the world economy and more than half of climate change emissions – would have introduced net emissions commitments by the middle of the century, he said in a statement.
If Biden continues with its plan for net release by 2050, it could shave about 0.1C of global warming by 2100, the CAT said.
This – coupled with an additional 0.2-0.3C reduction from China’s recently announced target of becoming carbon neutral by 2060 – will reduce the end – of – century warming tracker to 2.3-2.4C.
Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said Biden and his vice-president, Kamala Harris, “now have the chance to truly tip the whole world on an unstoppable path to phasing out fossil fuels”.
“If the US accepts net emissions by 2050, we will have the four largest economic regions in the world in line with science and point the way to a secure, clean and modern future,” he said, referring to the European Union, Japan and China.
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, now president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, has urged Biden to restore “a climate change partnership” with China, although warmer ties are likely to remain challenging.
Biden’s election will give ‘every notice’ that they must also increase their Paris targets against the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November – including countries that were reluctant to do so like Australia, Rudd said.
Climate experts from the World Resources Institute in Washington have said the Biden government should make the US ‘national contribution’ (NDC) to the Paris Agreement ahead of the COP26 conference, which has been delayed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s original climate action plan set a target to reduce emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025, but did not include a 2030 target, something many countries are now putting in place.
U.S. Director of WRI Dan Lashof said Biden should adopt a well-founded but ambitious’ 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 45-50% below the 2005 level.
That would require Biden’s government to implement a strong federal policy that ‘builds on a complement to leadership exercised by (US) states, cities and the private sector’ during Trump’s term, he wrote in a commentary. .
The less ambitious end of the series proposed by WRI is the minimum reduction in the US that is in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting heating to 1.5C, he noted.
The higher 50% cut would ‘do more to help the United States re-establish a position of leadership in international negotiations’, but would almost certainly require Congress to pass important new climate legislation, which could be difficult if the Senate remains in Republican hands, Lashof added.
“We believe that a daring NDC will be good for citizens, it will be good for competitiveness, it will be good for jobs,” Andrew Steer, president of the WRI, told reporters.
“But it has to be done right, it has to be well-designed – and we believe this new government understands how to do it.”
(Report by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; Edited by Laurie Goering. Give credit to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who are struggling to live freely or fairly. Visit http: / / news .trust.org / climate)