World leaders have this week set out a range of climate commitments around World Earth Day in order to help tackle the climate emergency.
Earth Day 2021 took place on April 22, though events and announcements have been taking place around the world throughout the week.
Recent years have seen governments come under increasing pressure to take serious actions in order to tackle climate change. While the coronavirus pandemic has somewhat limited the number of climate rallies and protests, climate activism has been continuing all the same, with increasing pressure on ministers to take action. This year, the United Nations COP26 climate summit is also due to take place with the UK as President. The summit is seen as a landmark event in planning the battle against the climate emergency.
Here’s a look at some of the key commitments announced by world leaders on and around World Earth Day…
US President Joe Biden has been holding a major climate summit, saying that this decade will be ‘decisive’ for tackling climate change.
The US has now pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 50-52% levels below 2005 by the year 2030 – roughly doubling its previous target. The new target comes after Biden’s administration also re-entered the US into the Paris climate agreement that Donald Trump withdrew the country from.
The new target has been welcomed by other leaders, including Boris Johnson who described it as ‘game-changing’ during the summit. Despite the new commitments from the US, other world leaders at the summit have so far only set relatively modest targets, while China – the world’s biggest emitter – is yet to announce any new targets.
The European Union has adopted new climate targets and has pledged to make them binding. Under the new legislation, the bloc will have to cut carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
While ambitious, the EU Parliament had pushed for an even higher target of 60% and some campaigners argued for a 65% cut of emissions. Previously, a goal of 40% had been held by the EU.
The new legislation will play a role in guiding regulations in future years and comes ahead of plans for tougher policies due in June on CO2 standards and other emitting activities.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 78% on 1990 levels by 2035.
The target has been described as the ‘most ambitious target in the world for cutting emissions and is set to become law. In order for the target to be met, it is anticipated that significant changes will need to be made to the way we live of lives, including through the switch to electric vehicles and renewable energy.
The new targets in the UK have been welcomed, though opposition politicians have called for more of a plan to reduce emissions.