WASHINGTON (April 22, 2021)—At the first day of the Leaders Summit on Climate, President Biden brought together 40 world leaders to accelerate the global response to the climate crisis. Under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to enhance their national climate plans ahead of COP26 in November. Several major countries strengthened their commitments, but more will need to come forward to put the world on track to keep global warming to under 1.5 degrees C. In addition, developed countries are expected to step up their finance pledges to close the gap in support developing countries need to respond to mounting climate impacts.

Today also marked the Entry into Force of the landmark Escazú Agreement, which is the first treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean designed to protect environmental defenders, while making it easier for nearly 500 million people to access environmental information, participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives and hold powerful interests accountable.

Following is a statement from Manish Bapna, Interim President and CEO, World Resources Institute:

“The Leaders Summit achieved its aim of jumpstarting climate action in this critical year. Some larger countries came forward with substantive emissions reduction commitments, as well as other announcements that will help speed the shift to a zero-carbon economy. The Summit sends a clear signal that the U.S. is firmly back in the game and serious about taking on the global climate crisis. For this, the Biden administration deserves high marks. 

“Mostly notably the U.S. administration announced a bold new commitment to at least halve its emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Japan ramped up its emissions target, doubling its previous goal, and South Korea committed to halt new financing for overseas investments in coal. Canada improved on its 2030 climate target by moving to 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030, putting it closer to other developed countries, but not yet where it needs to be. Meanwhile, China indicated it would move to limit the increase in its coal consumption over the next five years and phase it down during the second half of this decade.

“To make this year a true turning point, all major emitters need to get into the race. More countries need to come forward with stronger commitments in the lead up to the Glasgow climate talks. Growing research finds that taking bold climate action is good for jobs and the economy. Meanwhile, foot dragging will only lead to more costs and more disruption. A report out today from the insurance company SwissRE found that climate-related disasters could cost $23 trillion in 2050.

“Unfortunately, new commitments for financial support for vulnerable countries remains woefully inadequate, especially for climate adaptation. The U.S. committed to increase overseas climate finance to around $5.7 billion per year by 2024, which is a start, but lags many other developed countries and does not meet the needs expressed by leaders of vulnerable countries. For COP26 to bring the world together for climate ambition, developed countries must do more to support developing countries that face the harshest impacts of climate change, despite having done the least to cause the problem.

“The Summit may not shake the world out of its doldrums, but it should inject new energy to tackle the problem. With the U.S. having put forward a surprisingly strong target, it’s time for other major emitters to come forward with more ambitious goals.”


Notable Announcements from Day 1 of the Leaders Summit on Climate:

  • The United States announced a new national climate target (NDC): a 50-52% emissions reduction by 2030, below 2005 levels. Read WRI's statement.

  • Japan announced it will cut emissions by 46% by 2030 from 2013 levels and will aim for an ambitious 50% cut. There was no commitment to stop financing new international coal projects. WRI released this quote in response.

  • Canada announced it will enhance its national climate target (NDC) to 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. Read WRI's response.

  • The United Kingdom, COP26 host, reiterated its new commitment to cut emissions 78% by 2035.

  • South Korea announced it will halt all financing for new overseas coal plants. See WRI's quote.

  • China pledged to strictly control its increase in coal consumption in the next five years and to "phase down" coal use during the 15th FYP period (2026-2030).

  • Brazil announced its intention to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 (previously 2060), reiterating a commitment to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030. Read a statement from WRI Brasil.

  • South Africa said that its emissions would decline starting by 2025, a decade earlier than its previous commitment. 

  • Climate vulnerable countries attending the Summit pushed developed countries for increased finance for adaptation in particular, and for debt relief. The vulnerable countries at the summit include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Jamaica, Kenya and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. 

  • The LEAF Coalition launched. This is a group of governments and companies that will provide financial support to tropical and subtropical countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. WRI released this statement.

  • The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero launched, providing a forum for actors across the industry to work together to accelerate progress in the financial sector towards a resilient, zero-carbon future. This alliance includes the Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance and Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, as well as the new Net Zero Banking Alliance, bringing together more than 160 financial firms responsible for assets over $70 trillion.