US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to synchronize their efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 during a bilateral meeting as part of this year’s virtual G7 Summit on Tuesday, according to a White House press release.
Since taking office Jan. 20, President Biden has recommitted the US to climate action by, among other things, rejoining the Paris climate agreement, rescinding permits for fossil fuel infrastructure, and reversing a slew of environmentally harmful policies that occurred under his predecessor. By teaming up with Canada, Biden is further demonstrating his willingness to approach global matters in a multilateral fashion.
“Now that the United States is back in the Paris agreement, we intend to demonstrate our leadership in order to spur other countries to raise their own ambitions,” Biden said in a press conference. “Canada and the United States are going to work in lockstep to display the seriousness of our commitment at both home and abroad."
“We’re launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” he said.
Pursuing net-zero emissions by 2050 has become the standard worldwide. The United Nations, which has been urging countries to be even more ambitious, reports that more than 110 countries have pledged to reach this target.
“We have no excuse for failing to meet these goals,” António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, said in a statement last July. “We have the policies, the technology and know-how and the global framework in the Paris agreement to achieve this.”
Getting to net-zero emissions requires transformative action across all sectors of society, according to experts and advocates.
Energy production has to be both shifted away from fossil fuels to clean sources like wind and solar and dramatically reduced by improving energy efficiency in buildings and homes. The global food system needs to be overhauled to regenerate ecosystems and create carbon sinks, while also expanding the amount of food produced by focusing on plants rather than animals. Cars need to go electric, while public forms of transportation need to be expanded. More fundamentally, the global economy needs to be reimagined to limit natural resource extraction and pollution on an already over-strained planet.
While the US and Canada account for a significant portion of the global greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption, net-zero emissions can only be truly accomplished with global support. That means every country has to pursue zero emissions simultaneously, and wealthy countries will have to help fund this transition as a form of ecological reparations, according to the UN.
Biden and Trudeau spoke about the need for multilateral cooperation in the face of the climate crisis. The decade ahead will test the strength of this resolve.
“Canada and the United States have an extraordinary relationship that transcends geographic borders,” Trudeau said in a statement about the meeting. “It is in our best interest to work together to make things better for our people and both our countries. Today’s meeting with President Biden further strengthens our two countries’ strong and historic ties.”