Biden seeks 50% cut in U.S. emissions, sees farming as carbon frontier
By deploying clean technology, the United States can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by the end of this decade, said President Biden at an Earth Day summit intended to spark global action on climate change. “That’s where we’re headed as a nation, and that’s what we can do if we take action to build an economy that’s not only more prosperous but healthier, fairer, and cleaner for the planet.”
Speaking from the White House to the online summit, Biden said on Thursday that worldwide action was needed. “All of us … we have to step up. This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of a climate crisis.” Economic growth can accompany the shift to more sustainable energy, he said, describing the construction of new power lines, factories building electric vehicles, and the reclamation of abandoned oil wells and coal mines.
“I see farmers deploying cutting-edge tools to make (the) soil of our Heartland the next frontier in carbon innovation,” said Biden.
The White House said demonstration projects would “drive forward very low-carbon new-generation renewable fuels for applications like aviation.” Biofuel groups said corn ethanol and clean-burning renewable fuels were already available to reduce tailpipe pollution. “The White House has powerful and well-established tools under the Renewable Fuel Standard to jump-start that progress without any new action by Congress,” said the Advanced Biofuels Business Council.
Biden’s goal of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 would be a milestone on the way to reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050 at the latest, said the White House.
In conjunction with the summit, Great Britain, Norway, the United States, and a group of companies that includes Amazon, Bayer, and Nestlé pledged to mobilize at least $1 billion in financing for protecting tropical forests. The Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest (LEAF) finance coalition would reduce emissions from tropical and subtropical forests and work to end deforestation.
“Bringing together government and private-sector resources is a necessary step in supporting the large-scale efforts that must be mobilized to halt deforestation and begin to restore tropical and subtropical forests,” said John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate. Money will be available to countries or smaller jurisdictions when their efforts to monitor and reduce emissions and deforestation have been verified.
LEAF would be the largest single private-sector investment ever to protect tropical forests and benefit indigenous peoples, said the Environmental Defense Fund, calling the plan “a game changer … at a scale that is truly up to the challenge.”
Also on Earth Day, the Senate Agriculture Committee, on a voice vote, passed a bipartisan bill to assist farmers and foresters interested in potential revenue from carbon markets. The Growing Climate Solutions Act would set up a “one-stop shop” at the USDA for information about practices that lock carbon in the soil or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The USDA would certify consultants to work with farmers to design and implement projects that produce carbon credits. Certified independent agents would then verify the results of the projects.
“Many farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners are eager to learn about opportunities to tap into emerging voluntary markets that will compensate them for these efforts moving forward,” said Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, the senior Republican on the committee.
Farm groups were prominent opponents of climate legislation during the Obama era. Now they say they support climate mitigation if the work is voluntary and market-driven.