10 Years to Save Our Climate: Can We Do It?

“This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative, a moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities. Time is short but I believe we can do this and I believe we will do this.”

“This new target gives us significant leverage to push for climate action abroad,” said one White House official. “Every ton of reductions achieved in the United States has a multiplier effect in inspiring climate action overseas.”

And the vow couldn’t come sooner. According to the United Nations, the world is on the verge of a climate “abyss”.

Make no mistake: 2021 is a “make or break year” warned UN Secretary General, António Guterres: “Decision makers must walk the talk. If this task was urgent before, it’s crucial now.”

Scientists across the world have warned that all nations must halve their emissions over the next decade.

And, this highlights the central weakness behind America’s pledge: unlike targets set by both the EU and UK, it is not enshrined in law.

Moreover, unlike China which has the luxury to draw up ten year plans and stick to them, the US is beset by short-term political cycles and a belligerent opposition party which largely denies the science behind climate change.

In fact, Republicans were quick to denounce the new targets as illegal, highlighting the difficulty the Biden administration will face trying to push its plans through Congress.

Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry said he hoped that 2021 will be the year when nations across the globe make a decisive shift towards clean energy in a transformation which will rival the Industrial Revolution: “This is the greatest moment of transformation of our economy in our lifetime.”

“More than 50 years ago, a generation rallied to confront the environmental crises they faced, “ wrote Biden in his 2021 Earth Day proclamation: “They took action in hopes that those in power would listen. Today, a new generation is sounding the alarm louder than ever, demanding that world leaders act. It is in all our interests to rise to that challenge and let our legacy be one of action.”

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Aiko Stevenson

Aiko Stevenson

Aiko Stevenson is a freelance writer from Hong Kong. She has a Masters from the University of Edinburgh, and has worked at the BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC & Time.