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The Biden Administration’s Climate Crisis Policy as Seen at the Leaders Summit on Climate

Author Soyoung Lim, Kim Kyehwan Date 2021.04.30 Issue No 107
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○ Starting from his election campaign, U.S. President Joseph Biden has shown a proactive stance on responding to climate change and pledged to establish American leadership on the issue through the hosting of a Leaders Summit on Climate.

- On his first day in office, he had the U.S. rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change. On January 27, he signed an executive order on responding to the climate crisis and had his administration host the Leaders Summit on Climate from April 22 to 23. The president also issued an executive order on making responding to climate change central to U.S. foreign policy and national security and announced a “whole-of-government” strategy for economic growth and job creation to achieve carbon neutrality.

○ During the summit, heads of state affirmed their commitments to responding to climate change and shared ideas on cooperative action, including setting higher targets for greenhouse gas reductions and expanding the emissions trading system.

- Advanced economies pledged to raise their CO2 reduction targets, while their developing counterparts promised to cooperate in ways tailored to each state’s situation, rather than setting concrete reduction targets.

- Korea pledged to additionally increase its CO2 reduction quotas this year and suspend fiscal assistance for the construction of new coal power plants abroad.

○ At the summit the U.S. indicated its firm commitment to assuming leadership in response toward climate change, while alluding to changes to its relationship with China vis-a-vis the issue.

- Washington also announced ambitious reduction targets and plans to support efforts to address climate change in developing countries.

- It also made clear its intent to boost cooperation with China as a key partner in responding to the climate crisis.

○ Korea must transform its economic and industrial structure to actively respond to climate change while pursuing a full-scale green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

- This entails revamping Seoul’s government-centralized management approach toward responding to the crisis, while laying the basis to promote voluntary participation by all of society.

- A green transition in industry is a key element of Korea’s drive to achieve carbon neutrality, a campaign that requires not only the diversification of clean energy sources but an all-encompassing transition in the country’s energy systems.

- With Korea freezing fiscal support for overseas coal-fired power plants, the nation must identify sectors that can adopt clean energy, support the development of related technologies, and find ways to compensate for the loss of coal plant-related exports.

- Even as Korea offers official development assistance (ODA) through the Green New Deal swiftly reflecting shifts in domestic and overseas circumstances, it also needs to utilize the response to climate change as an opportunity for global growth.