Countries representing roughly 60% of global gross domestic product are slated to announce more aggressive commitments to curb emissions during this week’s climate summit, according to John Kerry, the Biden administration’s top climate diplomat.
Kerry, speaking Tuesday at a virtual event hosted by the sustainable investment group Ceres, said about 60% of global GDP “is lined up to go on Thursday to make announcements that are going to significantly raise their ambition.”
President Joe Biden invited dozens of world leaders to a virtual climate summit on Earth Day, during which the United States will unveil its new commitment to reduce emissions under the Paris climate agreement. Kerry has been racing in recent weeks to secure stronger climate pledges from other countries, as well, though he hasn’t had as much luck with major emitters such as China and India.
Kerry’s comments Tuesday, however, suggest the Biden administration has been able to convince some nations to join the U.S. in announcing stricter climate targets at the summit this week. He mentioned Canada and Japan as nations that are expected to announce stronger pledges.
Last week, Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide at the White House for a bilateral meeting in which the two leaders launched a new climate and clean energy partnership. That initiative includes consultations between the two countries on 2030 national emissions targets and partnerships to develop low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen, and advanced nuclear power.
Some nations aren’t waiting for the climate summit. The United Kingdom announced Tuesday it plans to codify a new target to slash emissions 78% below 1990 levels by 2035. That target builds on the U.K.’s existing commitment under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions 68% by 2030.
The Biden administration is widely expected to announce a goal of cutting national emissions by 50% below 2005 levels, a target that has been pushed by environmental groups and major corporations alike.
Kerry, during his remarks, also touted a joint statement on climate that he negotiated with China over the weekend. He claimed the statement, which was fairly broad, is the first time China has agreed to call climate change a “crisis.”
Thus far, China has committed to begin reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 toward the goal of carbon neutrality by 2060, a pace that many environmentalists say is insufficient given China is the world’s biggest emitter and a major consumer of coal power.
“They embraced the idea that we all need to take actions in 2020 to 2030 and that we all need to build out our capacity way beyond what it is [and] begin to shift out of coal dramatically,” Kerry said of the Chinese.