US President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, visited the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners in Brussels on March 9 to discuss how the United States and European Union will use innovation, technology, and the power of their combined market to reduce global emissions.
“We are committed to renewing our strong alliance in the effort to deal with the climate crisis,” a joint statement read. “Having worked closely to deliver the landmark Paris Agreement, we are committed to ensuring its success by reducing our own emissions and by cooperating with our global partners, particularly the other major economies, to strengthen their climate ambition,” it added.
The US reiterated its commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. Washington aims to announce its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement at or before Biden’s Leaders Climate Summit on April 22.
For its part, the EU has committed to climate neutrality in 2050 and intends to increase its 2030 climate ambitions by cutting its emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990. It is now working on a comprehensive “Fit for 55 Package” expected in June of this year to ensure that these ambitions are translated into effective action.
“The US Summit, which includes a leader-level recovening of the Major Economies Forum, is one of the key milestones for increasing momentum on the road to a successful COP 26 in Glasgow, and the Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (MOCA) to be held in two weeks will kick off high-level discussions and help marshal international critical mass. We urge all countries to take the necessary steps to keep a 1.5 degree C temperature limit within reach, including through commitments to net zero emissions by 2050, specific net zero strategies, and ambitious nationally determined contributions,” the statement read.
According to the statement, the US and the EU also resolved on March 9 to work together and with other countries to help the world’s most vulnerable cope with the devastating impacts of climate change. “These urgent challenges cannot be met by governments alone. We are encouraged by the strong climate efforts of many leading companies and will work closely with the private sector to mobilize the investment and transformative mitigation and adaptation technologies needed to stem the climate crisis,” the statement read.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the role of innovation and technologies in the growth of the US and EU economies. “And this combination of innovation, resources we put in, of course people who expect us to improve on that, is a fascinating one. It is a lot of work we have to do together but it is the right way to go. And of course, as Europeans, we are aware of the fact that we have to contribute to the common cause. But we cannot do it alone. And therefore to have you at our side, as friends and allies, is enormously important for us,” she said.
“Another point that struck me during this pandemic is: When we speak about climate change, we are often speaking about melting glaciers, or desertification, or extreme weather situations. All these topics are well known. But this pandemic also taught us that one of the breeding grounds for this pandemic is the loss of biodiversity and the complex world behind it,” the Commission President said.
“And we see now the widths of consequences climate change brings along and the urge and the necessity for us to really move forward rapidly. We have an ambitious roadmap ahead of us this year. It starts with Earth Day on April 22, very much looking forward to that – President Biden is inviting. And of course then the roadmap towards Glasgow in November of this year. So we are very eager here in this College to listen to you and then of course engage in a dialogue, in a conversation and discussion on that,” von der Leyen said.
EU Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans hailed the US return to the 2015 Paris Agreement. “Everybody in the College is really thrilled to be able to have an exchange with him. You know we said when the Biden administration took office: ‘They are back. They are back in Paris. They are back in the climate agenda’. This is the best proof that this is the case,” Timmermans said. We are going to be working hand in hand to make a success of Glasgow. It’s going to be quite an effort to get there, it will be quite an effort to convince other major players in the world to do the right thing,” he added.
“But I am absolutely convinced that the United States and Europe working together, we can move mountains and make sure we hand over a climate our children and grandchildren can live in. A world that is liveable, a world that learns to live within planetary boundaries,” the Executive Vice President said.
Kerry said he had a productive discussion with the EU Commission and College of Commissioners on March 9 about the urgency of addressing climate change. “The US and EU are united in our resolve to work together to raise global climate ambition,” he wrote in a tweet. “There is no greater long-term challenge than climate change. Working together, the United States and European Union will rally all the major economies to quickly strengthen their climate ambition. I met with Timmermans today to chart the way forward,” Kerry said.
The Paris agreement commits countries to put forward plans for reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which is released from burning fossil fuels.