As many climate activists had hoped, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden came forward this week with an ambitious domestic climate change plan that proposes to cut U.S. emissions deeply while growing America’s clean energy sector.
Yet, as important as the domestic elements of Biden’s plan and those of his rivals are, they are ultimately most valuable ecologically in legitimizing the key international aspects of climate protection, which are crucial to solving the inherently global nature of the climate problem in the first place.
After all, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are only about 15 percent of the world total, compared to 30 percent from China alone. Fortunately, the E.U., U.S., China and fewer than 10 of other nations account for well over 80 percent of global emissions, meaning targeted international efforts have strong potential to reach the lion’s share of the problem.
Credible U.S. domestic climate action is a precondition to gaining the trust and respect of the rest of the world — and allowing America to exert unique pressure on other major nations to cut their emissions.