May 18, 2021

Greta Thunberg to testify before Congress as Biden kicks off climate summit – live

The US has vowed to cut its planet-heating emissions by at least half by the end of the decade, in a ramping up of ambition aimed at rallying other countries to do more to confront the climate crisis.

Ahead of a virtual gathering of dozens of world leaders in a climate summit called by Joe Biden, which begins on Thursday, the White House said the US will aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 50% and 52% by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

This new target, to be formally submitted to the United Nations, represents a stark break from the climate denialist presidency of Donald Trump and will “unmistakably communicate that the United States is back”, according to a White House official who was briefed on the emissions goal. “The United States isn’t going to wait, the costs of delay are too great and our nation is resolved to act right now,” the administration official added.

The US is scrambling to regain international credibility after Trump pulled the country out of the Paris climate agreement. But the Biden administration said it has already helped secure improved emissions reductions from Canada, Argentina and Japan, meaning that, along with new pledges by countries such as the UK, governments that oversee half of the global economy have targets consistent with stopping the planet’s average temperature from rising above 1.5C, a key Paris goal to avoid disastrous climate impacts.

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old climate activist from Sweden, is scheduled to virtually testify before the House oversight committee’s subcommittee on the environment today.

The hearing, which comes on Earth Day, is entitled The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis.

“This hearing will discuss the dire health and economic impacts of fossil fuel subsidies and why the current administration and the rest of the international community should fulfill their commitments to repeal fossil fuel subsidies,” the subcommittee said in a statement last week about the hearing.

Thunberg has repeatedly criticized countries for not doing enough to confront climate change, and the activist has described government subsidies for fossil fuels as “madness”.

The hearing also comes as Joe Biden kicks off a two-day virtual climate summit with dozens of world leaders, so much of the testimony from Thunberg and other activists at the hearing will likely be directly aimed at the US president and his foreign counterparts.

The hearing will get under way in about an hour, so stay tuned.