The world has made "important progress" in its efforts to tackle climate change through new pledges presented during a U.S.-convened climate summit, but further actions are required, President Joe Biden said Friday.
"The commitments we've made must become real. Commitment without us doing it -- it's just a lot of hot air," Biden said as he wrapped up the two-day virtual meeting, which brought together 40 other world leaders including from China, the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter, as well as India and Japan.
Calling measures to tackle the climate crisis a "moral imperative to future generations," Biden also called on countries to work together to raise ambitions and ensure that every nation "does its part."
Either in the run-up to the summit or during the event, the United States, Japan and Canada set new and enhanced targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Brazil pledged to join other countries in committing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and South Korea announced that it will end public finance of overseas coal plants.
A key goal of the summit was to catalyze efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 C above preindustrial levels, as set out in the 2015 Paris accord, to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
With many countries, including the United States and Japan, already aiming to move toward net-zero emissions by 2050, the focus had shifted to coming up with ambitious 2030 targets to build momentum ahead of a U.N. climate conference scheduled for November in Britain.
Thanks to the newly unveiled emissions-reduction targets, more than half of the world's economy is now committed to the pace of action needed to limit warming to 1.5 C, the White House said, adding that "this coalition is growing."
The summit also sought to underscore how scaling up ambitions for climate action will serve as a chance to create jobs, advance innovative technologies and grow economies, challenging a perception that there needs to be a "trade-off" between the economy and the environment.
Biden has committed to putting the United States back in a position to lead the world in taking on climate change, reversing his predecessor Donald Trump's rollback of related policies.
One of the actions Biden took on Jan. 20, his first day in office, was to start the process of rejoining the landmark Paris agreement from which Trump had withdrawn the country.
During the climate summit, the Biden administration vowed to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction of emissions from 2005 levels in 2030 and to double by 2024 annual public climate finance to developing countries from average levels between fiscal 2013 and 2016 under the then Barack Obama administration.