On Earth Day, April 22, 2021, President Biden announced that the U.S. will aim to cut carbon emissions in half by the year 2030 compared to 2005 levels.  This is significantly higher even than goals established by President Obama during his tenure.  The virtual Leaders Summit on Climate where the announcement was made took place on Thursday and Friday and was attended by 40 other world leaders.  The U.S. rejoined the Paris climate agreement in Biden’s early days in office, and this announcement drives towards addressing its goals.

The administration has not yet rolled out a specific plan for how the U.S. will meet this goal.  However, we can expect that the reduction efforts will touch almost every industry in one way or another with terminology such as “economy-wide” and “multiple pathways” used to describe reaching the target.  Additionally, a Fact Sheet released by the administration describes various ambitious initiatives across many sectors including:

  • Transforming energy systems with a focus on solar, wind, and electricity storage technologies;
  • Revitalizing the transport sector, including accelerating the transition to zero emission vehicles and reducing emissions from international shipping and aviation;
  • Bringing clean technologies to scale, including promoting clean energy innovation in manufacturing and agriculture; and
  • Mobilizing financing to drive a net-zero transition, including a goal of a net zero investment portfolio for the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation by 2040.

Although regulation is not discussed in the plan, many of the initiatives will surely rely on new laws and governmental oversight to obtain their goals.  With this aggressive national goal, climate change issues will certainly be at the forefront of business leaders’ priorities and will also drive environmental corporate social responsibility (CSR) decisions and initiatives internally for many companies.