By Khyati Rathore April 21, 2021

President Biden kept his promise to rejoin the Paris climate agreement on Day One of his administration. Soon after, the White House announced plans to convene world leaders for a Leaders Summit on Climate to be held April 22 and April 23 – around the Earth Day – aimed at enhancing climate progress globally. World leaders from 40 countries were invited to the summit to discuss their climate ambitions and galvanize efforts to reduce emissions in line with the Paris agreement targets.

Leading up to the summit, the United States will also announce its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – “national climate plans highlighting climate actions, including climate related targets, policies and measures governments aim to implement in response to climate change and as a contribution to global climate action.”

These are crucial steps that, if done right, will set us up for success in achieving our climate goals and avoiding the worst scenarios of the climate crisis. Here is what you need to know as our leaders make important climate decisions that will impact our future.

Why is it important?

An Opportunity to Enact Ambitious Climate Plans

First, the U.S. needs to set ambitious and credible NDCs that will set our course to transition to a 100% clean economy as soon as possible. That includes an emission target in the range of 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. This will put the U.S. on a path towards net zero emissions by 2050, aligned with science and the Paris Agreement, but it will require a full government effort, including Administrative and Congressional action.

The United States Can Be an International Leader on Climate

The climate crisis transcends national boundaries and so do the solutions to tackle it. The U.S. should step up as a leader and foster international collaborations to fight this global crisis. Now is the time for our leaders to play a significant role on the global stage in building climate ambition around the world, enabling the implementation of climate solutions and achieving the global goals in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The Leaders Summit on Climate is a right step in the direction, and the world is watching to see concrete steps emerge out of it.

Environmental Justice Must be at the Center of Biden’s Climate Agenda – Here, and Abroad

Systemic injustice directly leads to the consequences and causes of climate change. So, it is readily apparent that we need to keep equity and justice at the center of all the decision-making for climate solutions as well. This means implementing robust domestic policies to support and uplift low-income communities and communities of color, who are most impacted by environmental injustices. And, we should use our leadership platform on the world stage to be an ally to the developing nations, which the United States should advocate for and enable an equitable and just transition globally.

We Need All Hands on Deck – The Private Sector Must Lead on Climate Action, as well

Lastly, it is imperative that business leaders step up to accelerate the transition to a 100% clean economy through innovation, collaboration, ambitious action and policy advocacy. Since June 2017, around 2300 business leaders and investors took the We Are Still In pledge — a public commitment to maintaining their support for and compliance with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The year ahead will be a testing ground for these business leaders who would play a crucial role as drivers of our economy.

How can YOU act?

Our elected and business leaders are two crucial actors in addressing the climate crisis and achieving climate goals. Governments can make and set rules, incentivize action and penalize inaction. Businesses are responsible for their products, have ultimate control over their own levels of climate pollution, and are accountable to the government and their customers – YOU!

This requires governmental policy shifts and business leadership to go hand-in-hand, and for us to demand accountability from our leaders. Our Climate Accountability Matrix outlines the ways in which our leaders must support the climate fight. And, it is our duty to hold our leaders accountable to this matrix and to their promises.

Here is a snapshot of the Climate Accountability Matrix: