• The Biden administration has pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels by 2030 at a climate summit.
  • It is hoped that this target will encourage other countries to set their own ambitious climate change goals.
  • Countries accounting for more than half the world's economy is now committed to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The Biden administration pledged to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels by 2030, a new target it hopes will spur other big emitter countries to raise their ambition to combat climate change.

The goal, unveiled at the start of a two-day climate summit hosted by Democratic President Joe Biden, comes as the United States seeks to reclaim global leadership in the fight against global warming after former President Donald Trump withdrew the country from international efforts to cut emissions.

It also marks an important milestone in Biden’s broader plan to decarbonize the U.S. economy entirely by 2050 – an agenda he says can create millions of good-paying jobs but which many Republicans say they fear will damage the economy.

The emissions cuts are expected to come from power plants, automobiles, and other sectors across the economy, but the White House did not set individual targets for those industries.

“This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” Biden said at the White House.

Just before the summit opened, Japan raised its target for cutting emissions to 46% by 2030, responding to U.S. diplomacy and domestic companies and environmentalists, who wanted even higher goals.

The new U.S. target nearly doubles former President Barack Obama’s pledge of an emissions cut of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Sector-specific goals will be laid out later this year.

How the United States intends to reach its climate goals will be crucial to cementing U.S. credibility on global warming, amid international concerns that America’s commitment to a clean energy economy can shift drastically from one administration to the next.

Biden’s recently introduced $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan contains numerous measures that could deliver some of the emissions cuts needed this decade, including a clean energy standard to achieve net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and moves to electrify the vehicle fleet.

But the measures need to be passed by Congress before becoming reality.

Biden focused on restoring U.S. climate leadership during his campaign and in the first days of his presidency after Republican Trump, a climate change skeptic, removed the United States from the Paris agreement on global warming.

"The U.S. is back"

The new administration has come under heavy pressure from environmental groups, some corporate leaders, the UN secretary general and foreign governments to set a target to cut emissions by at least 50% this decade to encourage other countries to set their own ambitious emissions goals.

Biden announced the number at the start of a climate summit on Thursday that will be attended by leaders from the world’s biggest emitters, including China.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Contact us to get involved.

World leaders aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a threshold scientists say can prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

One of the administration officials said with the new U.S. target, enhanced commitments from Japan and Canada, and prior targets from the European Union and Britain, countries accounting for more than half the world’s economy were now committed to reductions to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal.

“When we close this summit on Friday, we will unmistakably communicate … the U.S. is back,” he said.