U.S. climate goal falls short of European peers and Paris target


President Joe Biden’s new commitment to cut U.S. emissions in half over the coming decade from 2005 levels, with an aim to zero out planet-warming gases in the next 30 years, is the most ambitious climate goal yet by an American leader.

Yet it isn’t the most far-reaching goal on the international stage, coming in behind the U.K. and the European Union. And it’s unlikely to prove sufficient to keep average global temperature rise below 1.5°C, according to nonprofit Climate Action Tracker.

The two-day Climate Leaders’ Summit is Biden’s opportunity to show that the U.S. is serious about leading the world on climate action. All 40 world leaders invited to the summit will be attending, with several set to announce more ambitious climate goals. Comparing these national targets is made difficult because countries use different baselines.

Developed countries have long faced criticism from emerging nations that they should do more to address climate change, given most of the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere came from economies that industrialized first.

“The plan laid out by President Biden is hugely welcome and shows the kind of ambition we need to see from rich, polluting nations,” said Mohamed Adow, director of think tank Power Shift Africa. “But truth must be told. It still falls short of what is needed from the biggest historical emitter and wealthiest country.”

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