Last week, more than 40 world leaders, 14 cabinet members, 8 CEOs, and Pope Francis joined President Biden’s two-day virtual Leaders Climate Summit.
Biden’s key message was an economic one. He wrapped up the two-day meeting by highlighting the economic opportunities that can be created by taking climate action.
“Today’s final session is not about the threat that climate change poses, it’s about the opportunity that addressing climate change provides,” Biden said on the second and concluding day of the Summit.
During his remarks from the White House, the President said he is grateful to all of the world leaders who announced new commitments at the Summit to curb emissions and added that he felt the Summit has so far yielded “great progress.” He also stressed the importance of international cooperation, using his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin as an example that countries can have disagreements and still reach mutual cooperation.
“I’m very heartened by (Putin’s) call yesterday for the world to collaborate and advance carbon dioxide removal, and the United States looks forward to working with Russia and other countries in that endeavor,” Biden said. “It has great promise.”
In addition to his desire to establish the United States as the global leader in the fight against climate change, here are a few other key takeaways from the Biden Climate Summit.
Other Nations Besides Russia Announced New Emissions Targets
- Japan almost doubled its current target, and Canada aims to cut emissions by 40-45% by 2030.
- Earlier in the week, the European Union agreed to cut emissions by 55% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
- China, by far the world’s leading emitter, made no announcements. But President Xi Jinping said China would “strictly control” its coal dependence — it’s the dirtiest form of energy and a large reason why China produces 26% of global emissions.
- The U.S. and India announced a new partnership to “focus on driving urgent progress” against climate change.
- Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro pledged to better protect the country’s illegally harvested rainforests by doubling enforcement funding.
Climate Change Is Viewed As a National Security Threat
The global intelligence community was featured permanently on the last day of the Summit. The U.S. announced it would seek to “fully” integrate the effects of climate change into the analysis and assessments it offers policymakers. Director of National intelligence Avril Haines called climate change “an urgent national security threat.”
Haines spoke alongside Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who said in his remarks that President Biden had tasked the intelligence community with producing a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change.
Other intelligence communities present included U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace and Jumaah Enad, Minister of Defense of Iraq.
Smaller Nations Take Bigger Role
Numerous breakout sessions of the Summit were committed to engaging smaller nations that barely contribute to global emissions. However, due to factors such as sea-level rise, hurricanes, heat waves, and drought, they are more at risk of climate disaster.
Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lotay Tshering, addressed world leaders, as well as President David Kabua of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
One session entitled “Climate Action at All Levels” featured indigenous voices from the U.S. and abroad.
There were two full-day sessions of the virtual Summit. The first was focused on “the importance of accelerating public and private investment in climate innovation.” The second highlighted “the broad economic benefits of climate action, with a strong focus on job creation.”