Biden's climate summit: promises, promises?

The US aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, President Biden announced on the first day of his climate summit, calling on the major industrialised countries to join forces to solve the problem. President Xi Jinping of China, the biggest CO2 emitter, also committed to reducing emissions, but only from 2030 on. A look at how Europe's press is reacting.

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Financial Times (GB) /

Climate protection also possible without sacrifices

The successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol banning ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) shows that ambitious environmental policies needn't mean big sacrifices for consumers, the Financial Times comments:

“This is where we can learn from Montreal. Its most striking success is something we never think about: we still have fridges, air conditioners and spray cans. There is no consumer convenience we had to give up to save the ozone layer. Once CFCs were banned, alternatives were found quickly. Perhaps the cost increased temporarily, but today's products are if anything superior to those of the 1980s. The honest answer to what we had to sacrifice is: nothing.”

Kommersant (RU) /

Russia and the EU should work together

Economist Igor Makarov proposes a Russian-European Green Deal in Kommersant:

“Russia introduces CO2 regulation in its own territory and EU companies are given the opportunity to carry out low-carbon projects in Russia with credit for their emission reduction commitments. Everyone wins: European business, which can cut emissions more cheaply than within the EU, and Russia, which gets investments - and the climate too. For the same money, you can prevent far more emissions in Russia than in the EU. This would also be good for Russia-EU relations, which would get a boost instead of entering another crisis through the introduction of a CO2 tariff.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

The wind could turn very quickly

It's too soon to get euphoric about the US initiative, warns Annett Meiritz, Washington correspondent for the Handelsblatt:

“As thrilling as the American style is, it often remains superficial. Exactly how the climate and environmental goals are to be implemented is unclear. For one thing, the debate about future opportunities on the job market will turn around quickly as soon as there are setbacks. ... Trump was elected partly because he protected coal and oil. ... The United States will have to earn the world's trust and convince it that it really wants to assume a leading role in the fight against climate change. No one can guarantee that another president in 2024 won't undo all the efforts made so far.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Rainforests can't be saved with money

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is also taking part in the virtual climate summit. Two former Brazilian environmental ministers warn against partnering up with him on climate protection:

“What the government is missing is not cash, but a commitment to the truth. It denied the existence of fires in the Amazon as the flames were burning. Brazilian news is saturated with scandals that show persistent government action to weaken environmental bodies, roll back legislation, and ignore international agreements. ... To reach a billion-dollar agreement with Bolsonaro’s government at this crucial moment will only strengthen its resolve: it will be a boon for the farmers and land-grabbers who have illegally occupied public forests and indigenous land and send the precisely opposite message to that which is needed.”

La Stampa (IT) /

That ship has sailed

The promises of the world's leaders come too late, La Stampa scoffs:

Data from Copernicus [the EU's Earth observation programme] shows that the mean temperature in Europe in 2020 was 1.6 degrees above average, the highest level ever recorded, a full 0.4 degrees above the five warmest years ever. ... Rising temperatures, particularly on this scale, have devastating effects on human health, agriculture and the growth cycles of the natural environment. ... Sea and lake levels continue to rise, ice continues to melt, heat stress and heat waves increase in number, as do forest fires, alternating with periods of drought and flooding.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Mockery from Europe is out of place

Europeans should address their own problems instead of accusing Biden of putting on a show, Zeit Online demands:

“Where was the big German climate conference in recent years? Or better still, the great European show that thrilled the world, provided appealing pictures for the cameras, enthralled people and prompted other governments to take action? Most recently, the EU concluded an investment protection agreement with China to promote the economy. Climate protection played no role. ... If anything internationally impressive has come from Europe since the Paris Climate Conference (and that will soon be six years ago), it has not been from the governments, but from the children. Greta Thunberg moved the issue forward, not Angela Merkel.”

De Tijd (BE) /

Just taking part is not enough

Several countries, including the US, have announced new environmental measures at the summit. But climate protection must not become a competition about who promises most, warns De Tijd:

“As with the motto of the Olympic Games - faster, higher, stronger - there was an almost unanimous chorus: faster, greener, more sustainable. For Europe it's important that the US once again starts doing everything it can to stop global warming. They will once again be in sync on climate policy. ... For many, the fight for the climate is the perfect foil for shining diplomatically. That's not wrong. But the fight against global warming is not the Olympics. Participating is good, but in this case we need to win. It's about making the world leaders keep their promises.”