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Three Global Steps to a Biden Climate Initiative

The climate crisis is the greatest threat to humanity’s long-term viability. With more sensible US leadership, new policy tools that increase the cost of greenhouse-gas emissions, and stronger incentives to make carbon capture cheaper and more effective, the world will have a fighting chance of survival.

NEW YORK – American voters, who represent about 4% of the world’s population, will soon elect a president whose climate policies will affect not only everyone on Earth today, but also future generations. A victory for former Vice President Joe Biden would be good for the planet – but that alone will not be enough.

Most climate scientists believe that humanity will self-destruct if we continue adding greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere at the rate we have been doing over the last few decades. In 2015, the international community reached a landmark accord in Paris that committed almost all countries to major reductions in GHG emissions compared to a business-as-usual scenario. The United States played a leadership role in getting other countries on board – especially China, which pledged to reach peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030. Without the commitments from large developing countries, the Paris agreement would not be as significant.

Scientists knew that the Paris agreement was by itself insufficient to bring humanity into a comfort zone, because it only delayed rather than averted the time when the world’s climate would reach a dangerous tipping point. The hope then was that governments would build on the accord in a series of progressively more ambitious future agreements.

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