U.S. To Half Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 2030


President Joe Biden has committed to cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

The ambition is a significant advance on the previous target, set by President Barack Obama, of a 26-28% cut from 2005 levels. But it stops short of doubling that target. Now, climate leaders are waiting to see how the U.S. proposes that that target will be achieved.

The White House said in January that the president’s plan would put the country on a path to achieving “a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.” This implies a rapid U.S. phase out of coal power generation, the most carbon-intensive activity.

But though America’s coal power generation has fallen 43% since 2015, it is still the third most coal-dependent nation. And where coal has been shut down, much of that capacity has been replaced by fossil gas. This means that in 2020, 60% of the country’s electricity still came from fossil fuels.

The action would lock in a complete reversal of the climate stance taken by the previous administration of Donald Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate action.

“The Biden-Harris administration will do more than any in history to meet our climate crisis,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech Monday. “This is already an all-hands-on-deck effort across our government and across our nation. Our future depends on the choices we make today.”

Forty world leaders are expected to attend this week’s climate summit convened by President Biden. Among the countries attending are many of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, including China, India and Russia.

But the largest emitters are not expected to announce further ambitious cuts, with China already having committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2060.

Ahead of the summit, China’s president Xi Jinping told the Boao Forum for Asia conference on Tuesday that his country would reject any “bossing others around or meddling in others’ internal affairs,” indicating China would resist any political pressure to change its climate trajectory.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is also not expected to unveil ambitious new climate goals for the fossil fuel-dependent nation.

It remains to be seen whether Brazil will agree to a deal to help protect the Amazon rainforest, which the country’s combative environment minister Ricardo Salles has said would be contingent on billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Nevertheless, other countries have this week taken the opportunity to ramp up their climate ambition, with the European Union announcing yesterday that it would commit to further emissions cuts by 2030, and ensure its 27 member nations achieve carbon neutral status by 2050.

The U.K. was more ambitious, committing to a 78% cut in emissions by 2035. Though how Britain proposes to achieve that target remains to be seen.

Old Tamiami Blocking removed


For nearly a century, along the northwest corner of Miami-Dade County, Old Tamiami Trail served Florida’s tourists and indigenous tribes. Now in hopes of restoring the Everglades’ historic sheetflow of water, state agencies are working to remove it.

Just south of U.S. 41 near the Miccosukee Indian Village, the South Florida Water Management District is removing 5.5 miles of the unused highway to make way for fresh water flowing south from the heart of the Everglades — Lake Okeechobee.

The $7 million project was approved last summer, but crews had to wait until the area’s water levels dropped after the wet season to begin work.

On Tuesday, the district hosted Gov. Ron DeSantis and heads of various state agencies to witness the removal in action during a project celebration at the construction site.

“This is really an important milestone,” DeSantis said at the event. “It will improve the volume of water flowing south through the Everglades and support reducing harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.”

The project is part of the overall Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan authorized in 2000. The project has been a partnership between the state of Florida and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

DeSantis said that despite people saying the state’s budget would be a disaster, “we’re going to end up having a lot of success in this budget” for Everglades and water infrastructure funding.

In March, Florida’s representatives in the U.S. Congress asked President Joe Biden for $725 million, an increase from the $250 million in federal funding last year.

The roadbed removal is expected to increase the flow of freshwater into the northeast Shark River Slough by 220 billion gallons per year, DeSantis said.

“They tell me that this project is expected to be completed by January,” DeSantis said. “So, we’ll hold you to that and make sure that we continue working hard to be able to get that done.”

Noah Valenstein, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said during the event that Everglades restoration has hit a “battle rhythm” of getting things done.

“When water is not moving south, you have water moving to the estuaries. You don’t want it there,” Valenstein said. “You also have, I’ll mention, our tribal nations — when we have high water levels — are having flooding on their own homes. This is not acceptable, and we look forward to more water going south.”

When Old Tamiami Trail was built about 97 years ago, Miccosukee families moved out of the hammocks and set up near the highway to sell handmade toys to tourists as they traveled back and forth between Naples and Miami, Betty Osceola, a member of the Miccosukee, said.