After a campaign underpinned by WRI research, the Biden administration offered an ambitious and achievable 2030 emissions-reduction goal.

The Challenge

From wildfires, droughts and heatwaves to flooding and severe storms, the effects of climate change are increasingly visible in the United States. As the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China, it’s critical the country rein in its emissions to protect both the nation and the world from the escalating impacts of climate change.

Yet under the Trump administration, the United States took several steps backward on climate action, including withdrawing from the international Paris Agreement and loosening emissions standards and environmental safeguards. A new administration offered an opportunity for the country to reposition itself as a climate action leader.

WRI’s Role

Starting in January 2021, WRI proposed and coordinated an outreach campaign involving environmental groups, private sector leaders and others to encourage the Biden administration to set a 2030 emissions-reduction target of 50% or more.

Activities included op-eds, business and grassroots sign-on letters, an #AllInfor50 social media campaign, outreach to WRI business partners in the CEO Climate Dialogue and the Climate Leadership Council, and media outreach. These efforts were underpinned by research from WRI and other organizations. For instance, WRI and partners published analysis showing how the United States can cut its emissions in half by 2030, which we presented to U.S. government officials.. WRI also published analysis showing how climate action and economic growth go hand-in-hand and create clean energy jobs, particularly in rural America.    

The Outcome

After months of supportive pressure and encouragement by WRI and others, the Biden administration announced the U.S. would aim to cut emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030, an ambitious, achievable target in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and significantly higher than the previous U.S. pledge to cut emissions 26-28% by 2025.

The administration also rejoined the Paris Agreement and advanced climate legislation that includes billions of dollars of investment in climate-smart infrastructure and clean energy — investments that can create millions of good jobs and grow the economy.

A strong 2030 emissions-reduction target (known as a “nationally determined contribution,” or NDC) has re-established the United States as a global leader on climate change. The U.S. NDC also offers an opportunity to encourage other major emitters to step up their 2030 targets, spur domestic economic activity, help advance environmental justice, and improve the health and security of their communities.