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US preparing to unveil aggressive new plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions   

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Donald Trump had withdrawn the US from global climate plans. Photo: Reuters

Donald Trump had withdrawn the US from global climate plans. Photo: Reuters

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

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Donald Trump had withdrawn the US from global climate plans. Photo: Reuters

In far-flung corners of the federal government, staffers have been busy calculating how quickly the United States could embrace electric cars or phase out the last of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. They are estimating how fast the country can construct new battery-charging stations and wind turbines, as well as how farmers can store more carbon in the soil – and how much Congress might allocate to fund such efforts.

They’re urgently trying to tally up the elements of a major promise, one that could shape how aggressively the world takes on climate change.

By April 22, when President Joe Biden convenes world leaders for an Earth Day summit, he is expected to unveil a new, aggressive plan to cut US greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030. The moment is aimed at re-establishing American leadership in the fight to limit the Earth’s warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels – a threshold beyond which scientists predict irreversible environmental damage.

As he crafts the much-anticipated pledge, Mr Biden is facing conflicting political pressures at home and abroad.

A sizeable chunk of the Democratic Party’s base and climate activists who helped elect Mr Biden – and a chorus of scientists – want the United States to take bold action to slash emissions at least in half by the end of this decade, compared with 2005 levels. They argue that is critical to pressure other major economies to follow suit and to help the world avoid catastrophe.

But many Republicans warn that societal changes needed to cut emissions so quickly could harm an already battered economy, particularly in communities closely tied to the fossil fuel industry.

They are poised to campaign against such a plan in the midterm elections against vulnerable Democrats in swing states, despite Mr Biden’s argument that the shift to cleaner energies and less pollution will create a flurry of new jobs.

As Biden walks that political tightrope at home, leaders around the world have been clear that they expect the United States to step up after four years of the Trump administration disparaging global efforts to fight climate change.

“It’s a moment of truth for the Paris agreement,” said Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation and an architect of the 2015 international accord to cut greenhouse gases.

President Donald Trump had withdrawn the United States from the pact. Mr Biden rejoined the agreement this year. “We need a boost, and I do think that the US announcement will be that boost.”

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