What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

U.S. seeks to lead by example with emission goals set during global climate summit

The United States set ambitious new goals today to stop the world from heating up, urging other nations to follow suit. And some of the world’s largest carbon emitters seemed to heed the call. But world leaders left open how they would get there as they met in a virtual gathering. William Brangham has our report.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Leaders of the United States and other countries have set ambitious new goals today to slow the planet from heating up. They left open exactly how they would accomplish those goals as they met in a virtual long-distance gathering.

    William Brangham has our report.

  • William Brangham:

    With dozens of world leaders in attendance virtually, President Biden said it was urgent for the world to address climate change.

  • Pres. Joe Biden:

    This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative, a moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.

  • William Brangham:

    The president pledged to cut America's greenhouse gas emissions in half from 2005 levels by 2030. And he urged other nations to follow suit.

  • Joe Biden:

    All of us, all of us, and particularly those of us who represent the world's largest economies, we have to step up.

  • William Brangham:

    And some of the world's largest carbon emitters seemed to heed the call. China's President Xi Jinping cited an earlier pledge to phase out the use of coal.

  • Xi Jinping (through translator):

    China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emission before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

  • Man:

    The prime minister of the Republic of India.

  • William Brangham:

    And India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, repeated a promise to boost renewable energy projects by 2030.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi:

    We in India are doing our part.

  • William Brangham:

    But commitments to new benchmarks came from elsewhere. Japan said it would cut emissions by 46 percent below 2013 levels by the end of the decade. And Canada pledged to slash at least 40 percent of its 2005 emissions levels in the same time frame.

    Today's summit was timed to coincide with Earth Day and also coincided with calls from leading climate activist Greta Thunberg at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

  • Greta Thunberg:

    How long do you honestly believe that people in power like you will get away with it? How long do you think you can continue to ignore the climate crisis, the global aspect of equity and historic emissions without being held accountable?

  • William Brangham:

    The global meeting continues tomorrow, leading up to a larger U.N. climate conference slated for November in Scotland.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

Listen to this Segment