More than 300 companies have signed an open letter urging the Biden administration to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. Former President Barack Obama promised a 25 to 28 percent cut by 2025 in 2015, almost double the previous goal.
The United States is technically not close on achieving any of these objectives.
Many of the United States' biggest corporations are among the signatories, including Walmart, Apple, McDonald's, and Starbucks. "An ambitious 2030 goal is required to catalyze a zero-emissions future. To stimulate a vigorous economic recovery, generate millions of well-paying jobs, and enable the United States to 'build back stronger after the pandemic," the letter said, repeating the president's slogan for economic recovery.
A 50% reduction target will align the Biden administration with what the United Nations and the National Academies of Science believe are needed to reduce climate change's worst effects.
Environmental conservation organization Natural Resources Defense Council said in a March statement that a scheme like this will "help lift the country out of the pandemic-induced crisis by putting millions of Americans to work" and encourage more aggressive international climate change ahead of a new UN climate conference in November.
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Pollution Reduction Goal
A 50 percent pollution reduction goal, including President Joe Biden's campaign pledge to lead the US to carbon neutrality by the middle of the century, will necessitate steeper emissions cuts than the nation has ever accomplished.
In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions were nearly 13% lower than in 2005, a 1.8 percent decline from the previous year.
Climate action is one of the Biden administration's top four priorities. It has chosen influential, seasoned Washington veterans to lead climate policy activities at the White House, including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Activists on the left are increasingly hopeful regarding the administration's climate agenda, as NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben previously noted, despite raising concerns about Biden's climate record during the Democratic primary.
Initial Strategy's Rating
Biden's original climate strategy received an "F" rating from the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate coalition that supports the Green New Deal. Varshini Prakash, the group's executive director, is now openly praising his administration's new $2 trillion climate-focused development bill, which includes a pledge to invest 40% of the plan's funding in poor areas and the introduction of an employment initiative called the Civilian Climate Corps.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, told NPR earlier this month that she believes Biden has now come around on climate issues. "As much as I think some sections of the party want to resist hearing 'Green New Deal,' and dance around and try to avoid using the word, I think the framework has been embraced," she said.
The focus on climate change contrasts sharply with the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and lack of carbon mitigation goals.
All signatories to the Paris Agreement, which Biden re-joined on the day he took office, are expected to set these goals collectively known as nationally defined contributions, or NDCs.
The deal also requires countries to review their objectives every five years to make plans more aggressive as the expense of environmental change decreases.
Just fifty of the over 200 signatories to the Paris Agreement have submitted amended goals since it was first agreed to in 2015. According to a new United Nations review of international climate action, many governments are doing far too little to curb pollution for the planet to escape the worst consequences of climate change.
The White House has not stated how ambitious its strategy will be so far. The White House is set to announce in the coming days as it prepares for its Earth Day climate summit with world leaders on April 22.
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