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Biden’s climate summit: What’s on the line for the planet’s biggest emitters?

Exactly what we can expect going forward from the nations with the most black marks against their carbon footprints?

Today marks the celebration of Earth Day and with that celebration comes the start of President Joe Biden’s International climate summit – with virtual showcases taking place today and tomorrow with up to 40 world leaders in attendance.

Joe Biden hopes the summit will rebuild America’s credibility in the international fight against climate change after a recent lull projected by the nation’s incumbent leader.

This morning, the US announced plans to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030.

This pledge marks an important milestone in Biden’s wider commitment to spending $2 trillion addressing and improving America’s impact on the planet.

Biden’s announcement is the first of many we will hear from the summit today. Here’s a deep dive into what’s on the line for the attendees whose industrial impact has had the most damning effect on the planet.

Joe Biden

After what seemed like a never-ending period of radio silence on matters relating to our melting planet, presided over throughout the term of ex-President Donald Trump, Biden has inherited a nation in need of great and swift environmental improvement.

Not only does Biden have to make clear his plans to decarbonise the US throughout the next two days, but he also has to prove to an international stage that he is willing and committed to make up for lost time.

After settling on a deal in Shanghai earlier this year, John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy has said letting temperatures rocket upwards these last four years has been, ‘beyond catastrophic.’

For the 30+ world leaders sitting in front of their webcams these next few days, that means a catastrophic impact for the entire planet. A Chinese foreign minister has lamented Biden’s return to the Paris climate accords, ‘by no means a glorious comeback but rather the student playing truant getting back to class.’

It is increasingly evident that the ripple effect of the US holding the title of the planet’s second largest polluter does not just affect them.

It’s for this reason that Biden will need to do more than just committing a 50% reduction on emissions. He too will have to convince world leaders to buy into his plan of action, detailing new policies and changes to America’s economic infrastructure.

Vladimir Putin

Putin’s presence at today’s summit already proves the world leader is willing to put the climate crisis above any kind of strained relationship Russia has with the US.

Russia’s climate is one of those most affected by climate change. With much of the country’s land mass made up of ice, and a varied climate from one end to the other, Russia has seen frequent flooding, permafrost, and an increase in wildfires over recent years.

What will Russia have to say?

Last year Russia revised their plans on climate change. As the world’s fifth largest emitter, the industrial superpower has come a long way from its heavy reliance on fossil fuels during the 90’s. However, Russia’s stance on climate change in the last few years has fallen short of standards set by the Paris climate agreement.

In 2020, their commitment to reducing emissions to 1.99 billion tonnes by 2050 – 64% of levels emitted in 1990 – was seen as ‘baby steps’ internationally. The plan revealed that emissions would still continue to rise, leading to further issues down the line.


Last year was the first time Russia had taken any responsibility for the planet’s souring emission levels. Its plan wasn’t revolutionary but did signify a big first step.

Now, we could very well see a revised plan announced in the next two days. The summit is an opportunity for Russia to set out a larger commitment to helping out in the global climate crisis.

Truthfully, we’re not expecting a lot! But we’ll take what we can get.


Xi Jinping

On Monday, South China morning post reported that the nation’s leader Xi Jinping would be attending the climate summit hosted by Biden. With China topping the list of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, everyone is eager to know what the diplomat will say at the summit.

Last week, US climate envoy John Kerry travelled to Shanghai to meet with Chinese officials in lieu of striking a deal centered on action throughout the 2020s to reduce emissions. This was the first step in negotiations between the two world powers, suggesting they may be able to put any tensions aside for the good of the planet.

After the US announced this morning they would be committing to a 50-52% reduction by 2030, we’re eagerly waiting to see whether China’s numbers will fall in line.

Xi Jinping’s contributions in the next two days are impertinent to ensuring a greener future for the planet. Frankly, no global solution to the problem of climate change would ever work without the Chinese on board.

We already know China claims it will go entirely carbon neutral within 30 years, but in the next few days we may find out how realistic that prospect is.

As a first meeting between presidents, the next 48 hours could see some big political and environmental feats! Stay tuned.