Could the planet finally be on track to limiting climate change? After US President Joe Biden ramped up ambitions with a climate summit, experts are cautiously saying yes — although a difficult path lies ahead.
The White House has brought out the billionaires, the CEOs and the union executives to help sell President Joe Biden's vision of a climate-friendly transformation of the US economy at his virtual summit of world leaders.
The closing day of the two-day summit on climate change on Friday showcased Bill Gates and Mike Bloomberg, steelworker and electrical union leaders and executives for solar and other renewable energy, all arguing that pouring money now into emerging technology and efficient transport and electric systems will pay off in jobs and wealth long-term.
Bloomberg spoke from the US, declaring, “We can't beat climate change without a historic amount of new investment."
“We have to do more, faster to cut emissions," said Bloomberg, who's donated millions to promote replacing dirty-burning coal-fired power plants with increasingly cheaper renewable energy.
Gates urged governments and the private sector to work together to "develop and deploy breakthrough technologies" that will eliminate emissions throughout the world's economy.
“We’re gonna do this together,” Biden said in his closing message.
No nation can solve the climate crisis on our own — all of us have to step up. Today’s Leaders Summit on Climate is our first step to set our world on a path to a secure, prosperous, and sustainable future.— President Biden (@POTUS) April 22, 2021
Time is short, but I believe that we can and will do this. pic.twitter.com/t49hfXdkEd
Biden envoy John Kerry stressed the political selling point that the president's call for retrofitting creaky US infrastructure to run more cleanly would put the US on a better economic footing long-term. “No one is being asked for a sacrifice," Kerry said. “This is an opportunity.”
It's all in service of an argument US officials say will make or break Biden's climate agenda: Pouring trillions of dollars into clean-energy technology, research and infrastructure will speed a competitive US economy into the future and create jobs, while saving the planet.
Much of the proposed spending to address climate change is included in Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill, which would pay for new roads, safe bridges and reliable public transit, while boosting electric vehicles, clean drinking water and investments in clean energy such as solar and wind power.
Biden’s plan faces a steep road in the closely divided Senate, where Republicans led by McConnell have objected.
Presidents and prime ministers from around the world joined in to describe their own investments and commitments to break away from reliance on climate-damaging petroleum and coal.
Poland's President Andrzej Duda said his nation plans to build and use a zero emission energy system.
Duda projected that the share of coal in the system would drop to "as little as 11 percent" by 2040.
"That is why Poland plans to build and use zero emission energy system over the next two decades, thanks to which the share of coal is going to drop from the current 70 to as little as 11 percent in 2040," Duda said.
"This is not only an answer to the agreements within the European Union, but first of all, this gives the response to the expectations of the new generation of Poles, the young generation," Duda added.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said during the Washington climate summit on Friday that Norway was at the forefront of the fight against deforestation .
"Norway has made available high resolution satellite imagery of all tropical forests.This will help to improve management and verify performance. Norway is proud to be part of the leaf coalition an inovative model to mobilise private capital for countries that cut deforestation," she said.
She also said more than half of Norway's new cars were electric - a development helped by tax exemptions and other state incentives.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking virtually like the dozens of other participating international officials, described scientists at hundreds of Israeli start-ups working hard to improve crucial battery storage for solar, wind and other renewable energy.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta laid out the African nation's targets for clean energy and reducing carbon emissions at the summit.
Kenyatta confirmed the commitment to cut 32 percent of emissions by 2030 and that Kenya is currently developing a strategy for greenhouse gas emissions to be presented to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change before COP 26 in November.
"In our journey to the 2050 target, Kenya intends to complete its transition to renewable energy," Kenyatta said.
He also said, "clean energy already accounts for about 90 percent of total electricity supply in Kenya, and we intend to increase this to 100 percent by the year 2030."
Geothermal energy is being harnessed in the African state, which Kenyatta said "holds the fifth position globally" in the pioneering industry.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her nation would halt oil and gas production in the North Sea by 2050.
In her speech she said, "Today Denmark has more jobs in green energy than in fossils and the private sector is on board. We have formed climate partnerships with all parts of Danish business."
"All of Denmark is now united in reaching our target a 70 percent cut in emissions by 2030," Frederiksen added.
She also emphasised that the "green" industry would create a lot of jobs:
"We will leave no one behind," Frederiksen said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that urgent and significant action was needed to fight climate change, stressing his country was determined to be a part of the ecological transition, and claiming it offered "extraordinary opportunities."
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed his nation's commitments to the Paris Agreement.
Buhari said since 2016 Nigeria had undertaken "major environmentally sound and climate friendly programs."
Policy enablers and institutional frameworks have been made to "cut emissions by 20 percent unconditionally and 45 percent conditionally with international support by 2030," Buhari said.
Buhari also called on countries to "embrace secular economy and sustainable production and consumption models in order to expedite attainment of the long term goals of Paris Agreement."
The prime minister of the United Arab Emirates said his country is committed to working with the US and the international community to tackle climate change.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai who also serves as the nation's prime minister and vice president spoke at the global climate summit.
Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said climate disasters have taken hundreds of lives in his country, which he says is “suffering immensely from rising sea levels.”