Biden’s Climate Summit: What to Watch For and Who’s Attending

President Biden’s climate summit on Earth Day features high-profile speakers and attendees, including Pope Francis.,


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What’s on the agenda for Biden’s climate summit, and who’s attending?

Climate change activists in New York demonstrated during a global day of action in 2019.Credit…Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

April 22, 2021, 4:59 a.m. ET

President Biden’s climate summit kicked off on Thursday, Earth Day, and will feature a host of high-profile speakers and attendees, including heads of state and business leaders — and Pope Francis. Here is a breakdown of the biggest names and what the Biden administration is hoping to accomplish.

Which speakers should I watch for?

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris opened the summit at 8 a.m. on with remarks that highlighed the importance of global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Pope Francis will speak later on Thursday.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and David Malpass, the World Bank president, who has recently expressed support for a net-zero carbon future, will join a morning session on financing climate change solutions. In the afternoon, speakers will highlight climate work on the local level and discuss security challenges posed by global warming.

The summit will resume on Friday with John Kerry, Mr. Biden’s top climate envoy, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel joining a session on the importance of technological innovation in reducing carbon emissions. In a later session on the economic benefits of combating climate change, Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, will speak as the founder of Breakthrough Energy, an investment fund that supports projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Which world leaders are attending?

President Xi Jinping of China, the United States’ biggest rival on the world stage, is attending the virtual summit. So is Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, with whom the Biden administration is trying to negotiate a plan to protect the Amazon rainforest.

A number of prominent American allies will be present, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Other key attendees include Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan — leaders from whom the Biden administration has been trying to secure commitments on carbon emission reduction targets.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico are also attending. The White House has invited more than 40 world leaders in total.

What else is on the agenda?

Mr. Biden announced that the United States intended to cut planet-warming emissions in half by the end of the decade, a target that will require Americans to transform the way they drive, heat their homes and manufacture goods.

The new American goal nearly doubles the pledge made by the Obama administration, and the Biden administration hopes the announcement will galvanize other nations to increase their own targets.

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