The United States has struggled to meet its promises under the Paris Agreement, the agreement among nations to fight climate change; under those terms the nation had pledged to slash emissions up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Nevertheless, Mr. Biden’s orders will kick off a process to develop new and more ambitious targets that will be announced in advance of a major United Nations summit at the end of the year.
“The United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday. Both significant short-term and longer-term emissions goals, like achieving net-zero global emissions by 2050, “are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory,” it said.
Oil and gas industry leaders signaled that many of Mr. Biden’s plans would face steep opposition.
“Penalizing the oil and gas industry kills good-paying American jobs, hurts our already struggling economy, makes our country more reliant on foreign energy sources, and impacts those who rely on affordable and reliable energy,” Anne Bradbury, president of the American Exploration and Production Council, a trade group that represents oil and gas producers, said in a statement.
Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, a trade group that represents offshore energy companies, hinted at legal challenges ahead, saying in a statement that the pause on oil and gas leasing in particular “is contrary to law and puts America on a path toward increased imports from foreign nations that have been characterized as pollution havens.”
Environmental groups called the changes long overdue, particularly after four years in which the Trump administration mocked climate science and eliminated virtually every tool the government had to tackle rising emissions.