The virtual event, called the Leaders’ Climate Summit, will be held April 22-23 and live-streamed for public viewing.
“President Biden took action his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement. Days later, on Jan. 27, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders summit to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis,” a White House announcement reads.
Biden told reporters on Friday afternoon that he had not yet spoken to Xi and Putin about the event, but “they know they’re invited.”
China is the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide, followed by the United States, while Russia is fourth.
“China is by far the world’s largest emitter. Russia needs to do more to reduce its emissions. Not including these countries because they aren’t doing enough would be like launching an anti-smoking campaign but not directing it at smokers,” Nigel Purvis, who worked on climate diplomacy in past Democratic and Republican administrations, told The Associated Press.
Biden has discussed climate issues with other leaders in recent days, including in a phone call on Friday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and in a virtual summit of the European Council on Thursday with European leaders.
The list of 40 invited nations to the April climate summit includes neighboring countries Canada and Mexico, as well allies in Europe and Asia. It also includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and South Africa. Biden also invited the leaders of countries that are “demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy,” the White House announced.
‘Stronger Climate Action’
The event will “underscore the urgency—and the economic benefits—of stronger climate action.” It will be followed by the United Nations’ global climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
A key goal of the two events is to “catalyze efforts” to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the White House. “The summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts,” the Biden administration announced.
Biden urged leaders to use the event as an opportunity to outline how their countries will also contribute to reducing emissions.
At the summit, the United States will also reconvene the Major Economies Forum, a group of 17 countries that, according to the White House, are responsible for about 80 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and global GDP.
The White House said that the United States will, by the time of the summit, have announced an “ambitious” 2030 target to reduce emissions from coal, natural gas, and oil, as part of its new “Nationally Determined Contribution” under the Paris Agreement.
Upon taking office, Biden had the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement, the 2015 United Nations framework that seeks to tackle climate change. The measure intends to limit global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
The United States first joined the agreement during the final months of the Obama administration in 2016. Former President Donald Trump had the country formally withdraw from the agreement in November 2020, though he had announced the move back in 2017, when he called the Paris Agreement a “global disaster” for the U.S. economy that was too lenient toward communist China and other countries that wouldn’t be held to the same standards as the United States.
“Under the agreement China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years—13,” Trump said at the time. “They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us. … There are many other examples.”
China is the world’s largest financier and builder of both fossil fuel and renewable infrastructure worldwide, according to the Climate Action Tracker.
Experts have told The Epoch Times that rejoining the Paris Agreement will have negative consequences for the U.S. economy and bring little environmental benefit.
Bowen Xiao and The Associated Press contributed to this report.