The Climate Summit was one of Joe Biden's electoral promises. During that process, the then candidate pledged to bring together world leaders still within their first 100 days as president, to discuss actions to tackle the global climate change crisis. In the first week of his term, the Democrat took the first steps to get the United States to return to the Paris Agreement more than 3 years after his withdrawal, which was accomplished less than a month later. In addition, he announced that he would convene a meeting of leaders from different countries to start discussions on the topic. At the end of March, the invitation was made official and the summit took place on April 22-23 and was held in a virtual format.
About the Summit of Climate
The accomplishment of this event had two objectives:
- Environmental: encourage countries to discuss and develop measures to protect the environment against the background of the need to achieve the goal set by the Paris Agreement to prevent the average global temperature from rising by 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.
- Political: repositioning the United States in the leadership of climate discussions and represented the first moment in which Biden welcomed, in the role of president, several world leaders.
The Climate Summit did not constitute an official decision-making forum with regard to climate commitments among its participants, it is not on the official calendar of the United Nations (UN) and does not follow its precepts. Furthermore, the objective was not to conclude agreements and, in practice, in addition to the objectives mentioned above, it worked to anticipate discussions at the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP-26) to be held in November 2021.
The event featured an opening session chaired by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and attended by invited world leaders. Over the course of the two days, thematic sessions were also held to discuss issues such as climate finance, innovation, technology and climate security.
In addition to the President of the United States, some 40 world leaders were invited to the Climate Summit, including members of the Energy and Climate Forum for Large Economies, which brings together the 17 countries that account for 80% of global carbon emissions. This group was established by Joe Biden's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2009, with the aim of discussing measures to mitigate climate change. It consists of: Germany, Italy, United States, France, Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Russia, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Mexico, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia and Denmark.
In addition to these countries, countries that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and those that lead important actions for the preservation of the environment were included in the list of invited countries. Specialized experts and personalities in the area also participated, such as the Wapichana indigenous leader Sinéia do Vale, the only Brazilian, in addition to President Jair Bolsonaro, who spoke at the event.
During the Climate Summit, the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom announced new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while China, India, France and Germany reinforced their ambitions towards the green economy. Thus, in general, the speeches sought to relate the implementation of environmental goals with economic growth, development and technological innovation and job creation. The need to develop financial cooperation actions was also raised in order to make environmental and sustainability policies feasible in countries that have less economic resources.
Below, we share the main points of some of the speeches made by the government during the opening session of the climate summit.
USA - Joe Biden, President
- He announced the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The new target is almost double the last commitment made by Barack Obama in 2015, which promised to reduce 28% of emissions by 2025.
- It is committed to the development and incentives to clean energy sources.
- He defended the consolidation of the paradigm of a green economy, based on sustainable infrastructure and employment.
- Announced collaboration on the energy transition in India, the country responsible for 7% of global emissions, almost half of which come from its electricity sector.
Russia - Vladimir Putin, president
- He said that Russia has already reduced its emissions compared to 1990 levels and reinforced the country's commitment to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere by 2050.
- He highlighted the advantages of nuclear energy in the process of reducing pollutant emissions.
- He proposed to discuss changes in conditions for foreign investments that aim to develop clean energy projects in his country.
- He pointed out that the country has a plan to price carbon.
United Kingdom - Boris Johnson, Prime Minister
- It announced the reduction in carbon emissions by 78% until 2035, anticipating the previously established goal by almost 15 years.
China - Xi Jinping, president
- He announced that by 2030 the country will stop using coal as a feint for generating electricity.
- He informed that the country intends to reach its climate targets before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
Angela Merkel - Germany, Prime Minister
- He reported that Europe is committed to zeroing carbon emissions by 2050.
- He stressed that the country will not use coal as an energy source.
- He informed that 46% of all electricity in the country is produced from renewable resources and that this rate will increase.
Emanuel Macron - France, President
- He pointed to the adoption of the following measures as necessary for the transition to a green economy: inclusion of environmental costs in trade in goods and services; development of an international regulation composed of similar standards and norms with respect to climate goals and that would establish the price for carbon.
Jair Bolsonaro - Brazil
- He recalled the country's high biodiversity and agro-environmental potential and emphasized its historical centrality in the global environmental agenda.
- He highlighted the country's investment in solar, wind, hydraulic, biomass and renewable biofuels.
- He stated that by 2050, Brazil will achieve neutrality of greenhouse gas emissions, anticipating by 10 years the Brazilian signaling made earlier.
- He announced his commitment to eradicate illegal deforestation by 2030.
The climate debate in Brazil
Before President Jari Bolsonarona's Climate Summit address, there was an expectation regarding the tone and messages that would be conveyed. This is because, in 28 months of government, he collected wear and polemics, both nationally and internationally, due to his speech based on climatic denialism and the conflict with actors and institutions involved in environmental preservation actions. Thus, despite having affirmed the country's commitment to neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions and eradicating deforestation, his speech was met with skepticism.
In addition to the posture of the president himself, another factor that makes it difficult to assimilate the past message is the conduction of the Ministry of Environment by Minister Ricardo Salles. He is questioned, by national and international actors, as to the changes he made to the rules that underpin the protection apparatus of the environmental governance system, such as administrative, inspection and control institutions and procedures.
The Minister's options in conducting the environmental policy have already been the object of a manifestation by the Federal Public Ministry, which requested his removal from office due to acts that could be classified as administrative improbity. In addition, on the eve of the Summit, Salles led yet another controversy, being accused of administrative law by the former Superintendent of the Federal Police of Amazonas, who was removed from office for his role in the case of illegal logging.
At the beginning of his speech during the Climate Summit, Joe Biden stated that the event would be a space to debate the goals for the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP-26), the main UN summit on the topic. This event will be held between the 1st and 12th of November this year, in Glasgow, Scotland.
The COP is part of an international treaty established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is the highest decision-making authority in relation to efforts to control the emission of greenhouse gases. In other words, it is the official space, agreed by the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement, to debate climate issues and where nations submit their commitments to the climate.
For its 26th edition, expectations will fall on the negotiations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, whose objective is to arrive at a regulatory framework for a carbon market system. Negotiations on the topic have been ongoing since 2015, but there is still no consensus among countries.
By the rules, the country that is hosting the COP is the one that takes political leadership and chairs its meetings, which, for 2021, is in charge of the UK government. In turn, each country is represented by delegations, led by the Minister of the Environment and his negotiators. In the case of Brazil, this team is usually composed of diplomats, members of the technical bodies of the Ministries of the Environment and of Science, Technology and Innovations.
Last updated: 4/28/2021
Elaborated by the Umbelino Lôbo Team: Izabella Puglisi, Jéssica Coneza, Leonardo Nunes and Luisa Araujo.