World leaders are (virtually) attending the Leaders Summit on Climate today where some of them have made new pledges or commitments to reducing carbon missions with China, for example, pledging to phase out coal-fired power plants beginning in 2026.
For our part, President Biden has pledged to reduce our fossil fuel emissions by over 50 percent in just the next nine years; an ambitious goal that may or may not be possible.
“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden declared, speaking from a TV-style set for a virtual summit of 40 world leaders. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us,” he said, calling it “a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity.”
“The signs are unmistakable. the science is undeniable. the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” he added.
Biden’s own new commitment, timed to the summit, is to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030. marking a return by the U.S. to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump.
Activists and some experts are understandable skeptical that the Biden administration can accomplish this without action from Congress, but I wouldn't dismiss the possibility out of hand.
I believe there's a very good chance that Congress will pass Biden's American Jobs Act that includes the funding we need to ensure this will happen but, even if that's not the case, market forces are going will significantly reduce our damage for fossil fuels in a very short amount of time.
Some of the largest employers and logistics companies like Amazon are converting all of their delivery fleets to electric vehicles. The biggest automakers from Ford to General Motors are phasing out gasoline cars and even trucks for consumers. Working from home will also become normal for many people in the post-pandemic world even if most workers eventually return to an office. Even pizza delivery chains are currently testing electric and driverless delivery vehicles.
As someone who is personally concerned about climate change, my biggest concern is that not that none of this will happen; it's that we've already waited too long. But even if it is too late to prevent climate change that is already baked in, it's not too late to prevent even worse things from happening. I suppose that makes me an optimist to the extent that anyone can be.