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At 'moment of peril,' Biden opens global summit on climate

Biden: 'moment of peril'

Declaring that the United States and other big economies must "get this done,” President Joe Biden opened a global climate summit Thursday aimed at getting world leaders to dig deeper on emissions cuts. The United States pledged to cut in half the amount of climate-wrecking coal and petroleum fumes it is pumping out.

“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden said, speaking from a TV-style set for a virtual summit of 40 world leaders. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us,” he said, calling it “a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity.”

“The signs are unmistakable. the science is undeniable. the cost of inaction keeps mounting," he added.”

His new commitment to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030 marks a return by the U.S. to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump. Biden’s administration is sketching out a vision of a prosperous, clean-energy United States where factories churn out cutting-edge batteries for export, line workers re-lay an efficient national electrical grid and crews cap abandoned oil and gas rigs and coal mines.

Japan, a heavy user of coal, announced its own new 46% emissions reduction target Thursday as the U.S. and its allies sought to build momentum through the summit.

The coronavirus pandemic compelled the summit to play out as a climate telethon-style livestream, limiting opportunities for spontaneous interaction and negotiation. The opening was rife with small technological glitches, including echoes and random beeps and voices.

But the U.S. summit also marshalled an impressive display of the world's most powerful leaders speaking on the single cause of climate change.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is the world's biggest emissions culprit, followed by the United States, spoke first among the other global figures. He made no reference to nonclimate disputes that had made it uncertain until Wednesday that he would even take part in the U.S. summit, and said China would work with America in cutting emissions.

“To protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that," Xi said.

India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of fossil fuel fumes, has been pressing the United States and other wealthier nations to come through on billions of dollars they’ve promised to help poorer nations build alternatives to coal plants and energy-sucking power grids. “’We in India are doing our part,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told participants. “We have taken many bold steps.”



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