On Earth Day, April 22, 2021, the Biden administration announced several major climate initiatives that the United States will undertake in order to recommit to fighting climate change.
The overarching goal, announced in a global virtual climate summit with 40 world leaders, is the United States’ official commitment to achieving a 50 to 52 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, now just nine years away. Here’s what that target means, how it will happen, and if it will happen at all.
What Does The Target Mean?
According to officials at the event, the Biden administration will attempt to halve carbon emissions and greenhouse gases in a number of ways, including making the U.S. power sector 100% carbon-pollution-free by 2035. Otherwise, the announcement was light on details.
The target is way more aggressive than former President Obama’s — doubling the 44th president’s administration’s goals — but is by no means seen as an overreaction to the climate crisis.
Is It Doable?
It seems like the 2030 promise could be doable, though we don’t know the exact steps that will be made to take it. But, looking at Biden’s budget and infrastructure plan gives a good idea.
President Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, for example, invests heavily in electric vehicles and renewable energy and resiliency, a civilian climate corps, giving millions of people jobs in building green energy. The plan makes new, green energy production a priority of the administration.
His proposed budget for 2022 has massive investments in green energy and climate resiliency, though it’s simply a statement of priorities, not the budget that will actually pass. But if the broad strokes of his vision do end up coming into existence, the 2030 goal could happen.
Will It Actually Happen?
The announcement to cut greenhouse gases will be made official with a nationally determined contribution, otherwise known as an NDC, per NPR. An NDC is a public commitment to deal with climate change — and they were utilized when nations signed on to deal with climate change during the Paris Climate Accords, with the United States famously left behind during Donald Trump’s former presidency.
And therein lies the rub. Many are noting that President Obama made similar declarations to fight climate change, and as soon as a president who was a climate change denier came into office, all green energy progress went out the window and was even rolled back. Now, the United States is not even on target to meet Obama’s modest climate goals.
It’s very possible that another president could enter the picture, pretend climate change doesn’t exist, roll back environmental protections, and throw these goals out the window.
All that being said, full details on how the government will meet that 50-52 percent mark is still up in the air, and will be filled out over time. Still, it’s a good goal to meet and articulate — and if the government sticks with it, it’s one that will help save the planet, could create jobs, and create a better future for kids.