U.S., European firms, investors pile pressure on Biden to hike climate target

Hundreds of U.S. and European companies and investors on Tuesday called on the United States to slash its greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% this decade, adding to mounting pressure on the Biden administration ahead of a climate summit next week.

The world’s biggest economy is expected to unveil its emissions-cutting target at a U.S.-hosted virtual gathering of global leaders on April 22 – a move that could spur other large emitters to make the steep emissions cuts needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The United States should commit to cut emissions at least 50% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, urged a group of 310 businesses and investors, representing over $3 trillion in annual revenue and $1 trillion in assets under management in a statement.

The current U.S. pledge, made under former President Barack Obama, is for emissions in 2025 to be 26%-28% below 2005 levels.

“A bold 2030 target is needed to catalyze a zero-emissions future, spur a robust economic recovery, create millions of well-paying jobs, and allow the U.S. to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic,” said the signatories of the statement, all of whom do business in the United States.

Signatories included Walmart Inc (WMT.N), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and General Electric co (GE.N), plus pension fund California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), and the comptrollers for New York City and State.

Separately, more than 100 European lawmakers, businessesand trade unions urged the Biden administration to set that goal.

Some companies signed both statements, including Unilever (ULVR.L), H&M (HMb.ST)and Google (GOOGL.O).

The Europeans called for greater transatlantic cooperation as the EU pursues its own plan to cut emissions at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels – an aim that has so far outstripped the ambition of other large economies.

The hope is that a strong signal from Washington could unlock bold action elsewhere, to steer the world towards zero net emissions by 2050 – the pathway scientists say would cap global warming at safe levels.

That will require mammoth investments in renewable energy, carbon-cutting industrial technologies and zero-emission transport.

India, the world’s third-biggest emitter after the United States and China, is among the countries under pressure to make more ambitious commitments.