Biden’s Climate Summit: A Degree of Change or A Lot of Hot Air?

A “pre-decisional” draft executive order obtained by Politico in advance of the Biden administration’s long-awaited major international climate summit later this week “reaches into all corners of the federal government.” 

It “would touch every sector of American industry, including banking and insurance, oil and gas, housing, agriculture, and federal contracting, purchasing and lending.”

At the summit, environmentalists and other countries will look for an ambitious short-term (2030) goal to signal US seriousness. Many are calling for the US to halve emissions (50%) by 2030 and utility companies are actually counting on it.

The U.S. and China have also issued a new joint statement reinforcing their commitment to tackling climate change.  

Joint statements with China and Japan signal a return to leadership for the U.S. And the U.K. has just announced a new emissions reduction target 15 years ahead of schedule. But if other big emitters do not follow suit or raise their ambitions, the summit could fall flat.

The executive order, “Climate-Related Financial Risk,” which will be announced ahead of the summit, directs the President’s economic and climate advisers to work with the Office of Management and Budget to build a full government strategy “to measure, mitigate and disclose climate risks facing federal agencies,” according to Politico. 

Regulators will be told to incorporate climate risk into their oversight of major industries in addition to federal lending.