April 14, 2021

STATEMENT: Real action or delays and corporate PR? What to look for in the new U.S. NDC

With all eyes on the April 22 climate summit, it is expected that the Biden administration will shortly announce its highly anticipated updated U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which is the U.S. emissions reduction and climate action commitment under the Paris Agreement. Real climate action begins with Biden committing to a 195% emissions reductions overall and 70% emissions reduction at home, without use of offsets.

Biden’s much-anticipated U.S. NDC comes on the heels of growing pressure within the U.S. and globally for the Biden administration to take bold and substantive action to address the climate crisis and environmental racism. Last week, frontline and Indigenous youth rallied in D.C. to demand Biden cancel permits for Line 3 and Dakota Access pipelines. On the ground, Indigenous communities along the pipeline routes are rising up to protect land, water, and treaty rights against the devastation to communities and the climate these dirty energy projects will fuel.

Hundreds of organizations, including the U.S. Climate Action Network, which represents more than 195 organizations working on climate change, are calling on the U.S. to do its Fair Share of emissions reductions. This can begin to be achieved with a combination of cutting emissions down to Real Zero (not net) at home, a just transition off of fossil fuels, and international assistance and support for Global South countries and communities. 

Please see below for a list of the main principles we’ll be looking for in the NDC check out the newly released Fair Shares NDC here. Finally, see below for a quote from Sriram Madhusoodanan, U.S. Climate Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability and do let us know if you have any questions. 

What we’re looking for in the U.S. NDC:

  1. Bold and drastic emissions cuts in line with what science and fairness dictate, not evasive promises to achieve net zero, delaying action to far too little, far too late. This includes a commitment to 195% reduction overall and 70% emissions reductions at home, without the use of offsets.
    1. Net zero is a polluter driven scheme to escape accountability for the climate crisis and to avoid reducing emissions.
  2. Committing to a just fossil fuel phaseout. 
    1. Biden can take an important first step by rejecting new fossil fuel approvals like Line 3 and DAPL, and lay out a clear plan for a managed decline of fossil fuel extraction and use. 
  3. The U.S. doing its Fair Share. This means recognizing its role as the world’s largest historical emitter and committing to support Global South countries in responding to the climate crisis currently on their doorstep and justly transitioning off fossil fuels. 
    1. This kind of international equity means honoring its climate debt via significant commitments of climate finance (beginning with a “good faith down payment” of at least $800 billion between 2021-2030), along with other forms of international support.
    2. This isn’t just about doing what’s right, it’s about not surpassing the 1.5 degree threshold. Without keeping fossil fuels in the ground, drastically reducing emissions immediately, and advancing real, accessible solutions at scale (such as renewable energy), we are on track to blow past the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Quote from Sriram Madhusoodanan (he/him), U.S. Climate Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability: 

“This is a moment for President Biden to lead with historic and transformational action. He can stand with people or with the polluting corporations that have fueled the climate crisis for decades. This U.S. NDC is where we see whether the lofty promises of the campaign trail will begin to be put into practice — or quickly discarded.

For decades, the U.S. has chosen the side of Big Polluters and resorted to intimidation and bullying to block real climate solutions on the international stage. Whether or not Biden continues down that path will have far-reaching implications for communities at home and around the world. On the one hand, he can focus on cutting emissions to Real Zero, a just phase out of fossil fuels, justice for U.S. Black, brown and Indigenous communities, and support for Global South countries to address the climate crisis. On the other hand is the path of greenwashing and scientifically unproven net zero pledges that invoke fanciful accounting measures, non-existent technologies and waste more time that we don’t have with corporate-driven PR schemes as people suffer.

The world is watching, and a growing movement of people in the U.S. and globally is demanding Biden rise to the moment. In the coming weeks, we’ll see if he does.”


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