‘U.S. will cut emissions by 52% by 2030’ 



  • The President made the new target announcements at a ‘Leaders Summit on Climate’, which he is hosting and in which 40 heads of state and government are invited - including Prime Minister of India, President of China and President of Russia.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels, in a clean break with the Trump administration policies on climate action.
  • The U.S. would double, by 2024, its annual financing commitments to developing countries, including a tripling of its adaptation finance by 2024.

What are the Emissions targets?

  •  The emissions targets - part of the Paris Agreement on climate - are non-binding and the details of how they will be achieved are not available.
  •  However, in announcing the targets, the Biden administration is hoping to encourage other countries to increase their commitments.
  •  It is also seeking to bring America back into a leadership role on climate action after Trump had withdrawn the country from the Paris Agreement.
  •  Biden’s financing announcements are part of a $100 billion a year commitment from developed countries to developing countries for the period 2020-25, “an investment that is going to pay significant dividends for all of us”.
  •  The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement means it has not yet met its financing commitments either.
  • The Obama administration had promised $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund (to help developing countries), only $1 billion has been paid.

Jobs and growth

 In selling climate action to the American public, which until recently was governed by an administration sceptical of the climate crisis, President Biden and his administration have linked climate action and clean technology to jobs and economic growth.

China reiterates emissions pledge

  • China reiterated his country’s pledge to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
  • Developed countries, responsible for greater historical carbon emissions, should bear more responsibility for making changes at home and helping developing countries finance their transition to low-carbon economies.
  • India announces climate partnership with U.S.
  • Prime Minister announced that India and the U.S. were launching an energy and climate partnership during U.S. President Joe Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate.
  •  As a climate-responsible developing country, India welcomes partners to create templates of sustainable development in India.
  •  These can also help other developing countries, who need affordable access to green finance and clean technologies.
  • The ‘India-U.S. climate and clean energy Agenda 2030 partnership’ has launched.

Two main tracks

  • The partnership was described in general terms in a joint India-U.S. statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs.
  •  Its goal would be to “mobilise finance and speed clean energy deployment; demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to decarbonise sectors, including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; and build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts”.
  • The partnership will proceed along two main tracks: the strategic clean energy partnership and the climate action and finance mobilisation dialogue, which will build on and subsume a range of existing processes.

Below 2 degrees Celsius

  • Despite their development challenges, India has taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and bio-diversity.
  • That is why India is among the few countries whose NDCs are 2-degree-Celsius compatible.
  •  NDCs or Nationally Defined Contributions are targets defined by each country to help achieve the Paris Agreement’s objective of keeping global warming to considerably below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • India is targeting a 2030 GDP emissions intensity ( i.e., volume of emissions per unit of GDP) that is 33%-35% below 2005 levels.
  • It also seeks to have 40% of power generated from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

Net-Zero Goal

  • Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero.
  • Rather, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • Absorption of the emissions can be increased by creating more carbon sinks such as forests, while the removal of gases from the atmosphere requires futuristic technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
  • This way, it is even possible for a country to have negative emissions, if the absorption and removal exceed the actual emissions.
  • A good example is Bhutan which is often described as carbon-negative because it absorbs more than it emits.

The global target

  • The goal of carbon neutrality is only the latest formulation of a discussion going on for decades, on having a long-term goal.
  • A very active campaign has been going on for the last two years to get every country to sign on to a net-zero goal for 2050.
  • It is being argued that global carbon neutrality by 2050 is the only way to achieve the Paris Agreement target of keeping the planet’s temperature from rising beyond 2°C compared to pre-industrial times.
  • Current policies and actions being taken to reduce emissions would not even be able to prevent a 3 - 4°C rise by the turn of the century.
  •  Long-term targets ensure predictability, and continuity, in the policies and actions of the countries. But there has never been a consensus on what this goal should be.

Going beyond emission reduction

  •  Earlier, the discussions used to be on emission-reduction targets, for 2050 or 2070, for rich and developed countries.
  • These unregulated emissions over several decades are mainly responsible for global warming and consequent climate change.
  • The net-zero formulation does not assign any emission reduction targets to any country.
  • Theoretically, a country can become carbon-neutral at its current level of emissions, or even by increasing its emissions, if it is able to absorb or remove more.

Global actions for net-zero

  • Several other countries, including the UK and France, have already enacted laws promising to achieve a net-zero emission scenario by the middle of the century.
  • The EU is working a similar Europe-wide law, while many other countries including Canada, South Korea, Japan and Germany have expressed their intention to commit themselves to a net-zero future.
  • Even China has promised to go net-zero by 2060.
  • India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the US and China, is the only major player holding out.

India stands on a unique place comparably 

  • India is the only one opposing this target because it is likely to be the most impacted by it.
  •  Over the next two to three decades, India’s emissions are likely to grow at the fastest pace in the world, as it presses for higher growth to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
  •  No amount of afforestation or reforestation would be able to compensate for the increased emissions.
  •  Most of the carbon removal technologies right now are either unreliable or very expensive.

India objects to net-zero emissions

  •  The net-zero goals do not figure in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the new global architecture to fight climate change.
  •  The Paris Agreement only requires every signatory to take the best climate action it can.
  •  Countries need to set five- or ten-year climate targets for themselves, and demonstrably show they have achieved them.
  •  Implementation of the Paris Agreement has begun only this year.
  •  Most of the countries have submitted targets for the 2025 or 2030 period.
  •  India has been arguing that instead of opening up a parallel discussion on net-zero targets outside of the Paris Agreement framework, countries must focus on delivering on what they have already promised.

India's bigger efforts for the climate change control 

  • India is hoping to lead by example. It is well on its way to achieving its three targets under the Paris Agreement and looks likely to overachieve them.
  •  Several studies have shown that India is the only G-20 country whose climate actions are compliant with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 2°C.
  •  Even the actions of the EU, which is seen as the most progressive on climate change, and the US are assessed as “insufficient”.
  •  In other words, India is already doing more, relatively speaking, on climate than many other countries.


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