Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Biden unveils economy-wide pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% by 2030

The Biden administration is moving to address global warming by setting a new, economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Why it matters: The new, non-binding target, is about twice as ambitious as the previous U.S. target of a 26 to 28% cut by 2025, which was set during the Obama administration. White House officials described the goal as ambitious but achievable during a call with reporters Tuesday night.


The big picture: The new 2030 target is meant to keep the U.S. on a path that would be likely to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels by 2100.

  • This is the more stringent target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement, which would be more likely to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change.
  • Right now, the world is on course to see around 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100.

The target is also aimed at convincing the world which watched as former President Trump attacked and abandoned the Paris deal — that the U.S. is not only back in the agreement, it is also a leader in global climate efforts.

  • "The United States is not going to wait. The costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act right now," an administration official told reporters on Tuesday night's call.
  • Another official said it should provide "significant leverage" for pushing for climate action from other countries.

How it works: Meeting the target will require sweeping changes across the U.S. economy, including decarbonizing the power sector, dramatically scaling up the share of electric vehicles on the road, along with large gains in energy efficiency for buildings, among other measures.

  • Levers at policy makers' disposal include everything from tax credits for deploying renewable energy systems and purchasing electric vehicles to regulatory actions.
  • According to Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, about 75% of all reductions may come from the electricity and transportation sectors.
  • For example, renewable power generation would have to scale up from delivering about 21% of our electricity today, to 50% by 2030, Hultman told Axios via email, citing recent research.
  • The administration argues these solutions would be net job-creators. Officials vowed to take steps to cushion the blow to fossil fuel workers that could see job losses.

Yes, but: Some environmental groups say that in the global context, the U.S. target is not ambitious enough.

  • Global action is required to meet that 1.5-degree goal, and other countries must commit to sharp emissions cuts in the near-term.
  • But the U.S. is the biggest emitter, when viewed historically, giving it a special burden to act, these groups say.
  • A landmark report released in 2018, along with other studies since, shows that globally, emission cuts of 45% to 50% are needed by 2030 to have a fighting chance to meet the 1.5-degree target, without depending on technological breakthroughs, such as ways to suck carbon out of the air.

Between the lines: During the Wednesday night briefing, officials described how the target was crafted, and said there are multiple pathways within each economic sector to achieve it.

  • The administration is not betting the entire target on passing its $2.2 trillion infrastructure package, currently grinding through congressional negotiations.
  • White House analysts — led by national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and her deputy, Ali Zaidi — collaborated with government agencies and the private sector to determine feasible cuts for each economic sector.
  • They then compared those to the president's existing commitments, such as moving the U.S. to net zero emissions by 2050.

Of note: Officials repeatedly cited technological advances and market forces, which are driving a faster pace of decarbonization than thought five to 10 years ago, as reasons why their target is both ambitious and achievable.

  • They pointed to steep declines in costs for batteries, solar panels and other clean energy technologies, as well as state and city policies implemented during the Trump administration.
  • "We're standing here with better field position today than we had four years ago, than we had 10 years ago," an official said.

Reality check: Global emissions fell in 2020, but are on track to rebound after the pandemic-induced decline.

  • Arresting the growth, and bending the emissions curve downwards, is a Herculean task on a global level, where China is the top current emitter, with India, Brazil and other developing countries also seeing increases.

Ben Geman contributed reporting.

Israel to continue Gaza operation, officials rule out cease-fire for now

The Israeli security cabinet on Sunday decided to continue the Gaza operation, according to military plans. Israeli officials said a cease-fire is not on the table right now.

Why it matters: There was a growing feeling within the military and senior defense establishment ahead of the cabinet meeting that Israel should start moving toward ending the operation.

Keep reading... Show less

Liz Cheney says she regrets voting for Trump in 2020

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was ousted Wednesday as the third-highest ranking House Republican, told ABC's "This Week" that she regrets voting for former President Trump in 2020, although she could never have supported Biden.

Why it matters: Cheney, voted out of House Republican leadership over her repeated condemnation of Trump and his unfounded claims of election fraud, plans to challenge the former president for ideological dominance of the GOP.

Keep reading... Show less

Blinken speaks with Associated Press CEO after Israeli airstrike destroys Gaza office

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt on Saturday after an Israeli airstrike destroyed the outlet's local media office in the Gaza Strip, which also housed the Al Jazeera office.

Why it matters: "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today" Pruitt said in a statement — as fighting between Israel and Hamas continues to bring more casualties.

Keep reading... Show less

Fashion

Consumers and retailers alike are still trying to figure out what Americans will want to wear as they head back out into the world after a year at home, in sweatpants.

Why it matters: The choices people make about their post-pandemic wardrobes will help define what, exactly, our “new normal” is. They'll indicate how both work and socializing have changed, and will tell the story of how people expressed themselves in the aftermath of a year of massive transformation.

Keep reading... Show less

UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as Netanyahu vows to continue strikes

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

Keep reading... Show less

In photos: Protesters rally across U.S. and the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

Keep reading... Show less

The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories