Countries around the globe unite in the critical battle against climate change

Madrid / 05 July 2021

The United States and the European Union are leading this crucial battle, while other countries, such as China, are far from tackling our planet's rising temperatures. Climate change is a global challenge, yet not all countries are as ambitious in taking action to combat it, nor do they have the same level of commitment. The following article takes us on a journey through each country's climate goals and how they are planning a "green recovery" after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Many of the climate agreements were recently announced at the virtual climate summit hosted by the United States on the 22nd-23rd of April, which signaled each country's fervent return to the fight for a greener planet. The agreements outlined ambitious goals of reducing emissions by 50-52% by 2030.

Corporate Affairs Department
US returns to the climate fight

One of the highlights from the summit was the US announcing their return to the Paris Agreement, which represents a considerable step forward for the future of our planet. The main goal, which is to cut emissions in half by 2030, was announced by President Joe Biden.
Biden has pledged to make the US electricity sector carbon-free by 2035 and to eliminate total emissions by 2050. 

Live Oak wind farm in the United States

This is an essential shift in the policy followed so far by the North American country; it is important to note that his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from the Paris Agreement in 2017 and repealed environmental laws and decrees. Furthermore, during his speech at the summit, Biden announced that he will contribute 5.7 billion dollars to the climate adaptation aid fund for countries with fewer resources. With this policy shift, the EU and the US are once again working together to combat climate change and will form an international coalition in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Convention (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

EUROPE leads change

Achieving climate neutrality by 2050 is the main objective of the European Climate Law Green Deal. But what is climate neutrality and how do EU Member States intend to achieve it? It will be achieved when the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are equal to the levels of greenhouse gas removals, thus achieving a zero balance. The 27 counties that comprise the EU are making the first steps to achieve this by working to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030. Achieving this objective involves the revision of the Renewables Directive, which will be presented on 14 July by the European Commission.

The UK is emerging as the leader in the international race to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The Anglo-Saxon country is committed to reducing emissions by 68% in 2030 and 78% in 2035. The first steps will be a ban on the sale of polluting cars from 2030 and it’s a commitment to offshore wind energy with the aim of reaching 40GW of offshore wind production by 2030. Following closely behind the UK, the Netherlands passed its climate law in 2019 with the goal of reaching a 95% emissions reduction and carbon neutrality by 2050.

German President Angela Merkel signaled at the summit that by 2038 her country would stop sourcing electricity from coal, a move that is already underway as renewables account for 47% of Germany's energy sources.Merkel’s goal is to achieve climate neutrality by 2045. And Germany has committed to reducing emissions by 65% in 2030.

On the other hand, the Nordic countries play an important role in the fight against climate change. The first state to implement climate regulation was Finland in 2015, aiming for an 80% emissions reduction by 2050 and climate neutrality by 2035. On the other hand, in 2017, climate legislation came into force in Norway and Sweden. Sweden passed a zero-emissions law by 2045 that includes a 63% emissions reduction by 2030, while Norway aims for a 55% emissions reduction by 2030 and climate neutrality by mid-century. In 2019, Denmark passed its climate change law, which puts emission reductions at 70% and aims to reach emission neutrality by 2050.

Björkhöjden wind farm landscape in Sweden
France aims to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. At the beginning of May, France's National Assembly approved the Climate Law in the first instance. The law outlines a ban on the advertising of fossil fuels and air travel within the country if there is a rail connection of less than 2.5 hours. The law also extends economic aid for the replacement of polluting vehicles and includes a chapter to protect the French Amazon rainforest. While Spain passed its first Climate Change and Energy Transition Law on the 20th of May, the most important measures established were: a ban on the sale of diesel, petrol and hybrid vehicles from 2040, the construction of a fleet of emission-free commercial vehicles by 2050 and the non-authorization of new hydrocarbon or uranium mining projects. The law sets out the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 23% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by mid-century. It also sets a target of being powered by 42% renewable energy by the end of the decade, by which time the country also aims to reach 50GW of wind power (Spain currently has just over 27GW).
America: contrasting targets and resources
On the American continent, countries with more resources are establishing more committed and ambitious environmental measures. This is the case of the United States, which is returning to the battle against climate change with very clear objectives. In Canada, on the other hand, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at the summit that he will increase the projected emissions cuts from 30% to 45% by 2030. To achieve this goal, he will allocate 15 billion Canadian dollars to investments in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure and a gradual annual increase in carbon taxes.
These objectives contrast with Mexico's energy policy shift. Andrés Manuel López Obrador has put a brake on the deployment of renewables in the country, giving preference to hydroelectric and fossil fuel plants of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). López Obrador indicated during the summit that he is establishing measures against deforestation and highlighted the modernization of hydropower in the country. However, he did not mention any measures to reduce emissions.
SGRE wind turbine in Tizimin, Mexico
Meanwhile in Argentina, the president, Alberto Fernández, pledged during the summit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2030 and highlighted among his measures the protection of natural spaces. He also advocated the importance of international lending agencies in tackling the crisis so the country can progress towards a green recovery.
Brazil's president, Jair Balsonaro, assured the summit that his country will have net-zero emissions by 2050, ten years earlier than expected, and outlined his commitment to combatting illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. In 2020, fires ravaged the Amazon, and 1.7 million hectares of forest were lost, 25% more than the previous year, according to the Global Forest Watch Annual Report.
In the rest of the world, a diversity of strategies

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the 21st century. Russia will implement it’s a climate strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions this year.

China and India, two of the world's biggest polluters, have not shown a clear commitment to the environment. Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged at the summit to be carbon neutral by 2060, although he did not announce any measures to suggest that this goal is achievable. Currently, China is ranked as the most polluting country. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), it is responsible for around 28% of global CO2 emissions. I India also has a high level of pollution, and according to the IEA, it generates 70% of its energy from coal. The country did not set a deadline for climate neutrality at the virtual summit. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that his 2030 target is to have 450GW of renewables installed and he claimed he aims to reduce emissions by 33-35% by 2030.

On the other hand, Australia and New Zealand are working hard to combat climate change. Australia passed its Climate Change and Energy Transition Act in 2018 and aims to reduce emissions by 26-28% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Its measures include investment in low-emission technologies and a commitment to clean energy. According to data from the Clean Energy Council, the main source of renewable energy in 2020 was wind power, which attributed to9.9% of the total energy generated in Australia. Meanwhile, New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinta Ardern, announced during the summit that her country will be carbon neutral by 2050 and will generate all its energy from renewables by 2035. She envisages half of all vehicles being electric by 2035 and an end to imports of petrol and diesel cars by 2032 and she outlined a commitment to reducing the livestock industry.

In the Pacific Ocean there is also another country committed to the fight against climate change: Japan. The Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, who came to power at the end of 2020, pledged at the summit to reduce emissions by 46% by 2030 and to reach zero levels by 2050. An environmental milestone that will mean a decarbonization transformation of Japan's leading industries. In addition, on the 27th May they signed an agreement with the European Union to cooperate in the fight against climate change and to intensify renewable technologies.
The economic constraint of the least developed countries is the greatest handicap to achieving global emissions neutrality by 2050. According to UN figures, Third World countries would have to invest 70 billion dollars to be able to level the playing field against climate change compared to more industrialized regions. Therefore, some countries in Southeast Asia or Africa cannot economically be part of the green transition, which is why external financing is essential. If we do not unite in this paramount fight against climate change, we have a daunting future ahead. It is up to all of us to come together and react now.

Farewell to the fossil fuel era
All these climate commitments undoubtedly have geopolitical effects. The aim is for fossil fuels to be phased out and for renewable energy sources to become increasingly important. Green hydrogen, wind and solar energy will be key to running the world on clean energy. The green transition is already underway, and there is a global commitment to the future of our planet.


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