Climate Hope Is Back
After withstanding four years of official US efforts to sabotage progress on combating climate change, the world is entering a promising new era of opportunity. To make the most of it, the US, Europe, and China must recognize that decarbonization is the new common ground on which they must build.
DENVER – Around this time four years ago, the climate community was in shock. Just when the world seemed to be on the cusp of pursuing serious measures to fight climate change, voters in the United States elected a president who would try to reverse all of the country’s previous climate achievements, causing immeasurable damage. We are now finally approaching the end of that bleak era.
Over the past four years, many outside the US federal government have continued to make progress against climate change. State and city governments, major institutions, and businesses large and small ignored the president’s backward-looking rhetoric and continued working toward a sustainable future. And, outside the US, many other countries strengthened their climate commitments and instituted concrete action plans.
The European Union is leading the way. Under President Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission has introduced a European Green Deal to achieve climate neutrality (net-zero carbon dioxide emissions) by 2050. And in a speech to the United Nations on September 22, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a similar goal for China, which is now committed to being “carbon neutral” by 2060. Given China’s starting position, this target is arguably even more ambitious than the EU’s.