World leaders pledge to cap global emissions

April 27, 2021

Leaders from around the world committed to reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to clean energy at President Biden’s virtual Leaders Summit on Climate.

“We made great progress,” Biden said on April 23, the second day of the summit. “I’m grateful to all the leaders who have announced new commitments to help us meet the existential threat of climate change.”

On the first day of the Leaders Summit on Climate, representatives from the private sector announced large financial commitments. Six banks committed to investing in climate-related efforts, promising a total of $4.16 trillion over the next 10 years toward green initiatives.

In the public sector, world leaders made a variety of commitments for their countries, including the following:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Canada would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030.
  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga similarly pledged Japan would cut its emissions by 46% to 50% by 2030, aiming for a target of 46% and making major efforts to achieve 50%.
  • President Moon Jae-in committed the Republic of Korea to ending new public financing for overseas coal projects and to bringing forward a new emissions pledge later this year in line with its 2050 net zero goal.
  • President Jair Bolsonaro promised Brazil would end illegal deforestation by 2030 and pledged carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s target of installing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy across the country by 2030 and announced the U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership.

A woman walks past a wind turbine on April 23 in London. (© Frank Augstein/AP Images)
In the immediate run-up to the summit, the United Kingdom announced that it would put into law a 78% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2035. The European Union, too, said it would put into law a goal to reduce its emissions by 55% by 2030 and reiterated its pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

With commitments from the EU, U.K., Japan, Canada and the United States, nations accounting for more than half of the world’s economy have committed to the pace of reductions required to cap the Earth’s warming at 1.5 degree Celsius, said a State Department spokesperson.

“That’s pretty impressive,” Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said of the commitments during his closing remarks on the first day of the summit. “But 50 percent doesn’t do it for the rest of the planet or any of us. We have to get every nation involved in this challenge.”

Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the focus should be on the 20 most developed countries, which account for 81% of all global emissions, Kerry said.

“The amount of action and new commitments that we heard yesterday was frankly inspiring,” Kerry said on April 23 at the start of the summit’s second day. “I think it’s fair to say there is a new beginning.”