The summit is intended to drum up serious commitments on cutting carbon emissions ahead of the next global climate meeting in Scotland in November. Unofficially, the gathering also marks the return of the United States to world leadership on the issue, after ex-President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement during his four-year term.
Biden has committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52%
below its 2005 emissions levels by 2030. Officials said Biden and his team arrived at the final number in a meeting at the White House on Wednesday morning.
The US badly needs to build some credibility, after quitting climate pacts not once, but twice. President George W. Bush ditched the Kyoto Protocol
in his first year in office, arguing, like Trump, that such deals hurt the US economy, cost jobs and disadvantage the US in comparison with its rivals. If a new Republican president moves into the Oval Office in January 2025, she or he could complete the hat trick of American withdrawals from global climate agreements.
Dealing with Washington on emissions means other nations must make politically tough decisions -- with no guarantee the US will keep its end of the bargain. Of course the fate of the Earth might be reason enough for other governments to transition from fossil fuels. And if the US doesn't want to lead the 21st century's low-carbon economy, plenty of others do.
The summit is also the first test of an argument that global climate envoy John Kerry has been making: that climate change is too important to allow worsening rivalries get in the way of cooperation.
'A signal has been sent that justice for all is finally achievable'
Now convicted for the murder of George Floyd, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is being kept in a segregated prison unit for his own safety and will be sentenced in June. Meanwhile readers around the world had plenty to say about Tuesday's verdict -- here's a sample.
The trial's conclusion has set America's course for a more just future, argued Gary in Burbank, California. "In our America, long divided, a signal has been sent that justice for all is finally achievable. Embodied in the joyful acknowledgment of this moment, Americans of all races embraced and peacefully shared this breakthrough moment together."
Marcela was satisfied with the outcome but thought it channeled social and political pressures. "The given verdict is a correct one (from a legal point of view), but it expresses a political form of expression of the American legislative system. The verdict was largely influenced by the mass revolt, fed up with so much injustice."
And Lauro in London pointed to the bigger picture. "The verdict? Just and right. But the strange irony is that Derek Chauvin is now himself a victim. Steeped in a racist culture, he absorbed it. In the middle of an arrest, he slipped (so to speak) and took his racism too far. He now faces some 20 years or more of prison: an ironic victim of his racist culture in a changing time."
From Terres-de-Haute-Charente, Paul offered his "view from Europe": "Within the polarised society there is hope and possibility. The possibility is that justice will prevail for everyone, the hope is that justice will be overseen by urgent new laws being passed in the Senate. There is no time to waste."
"America has achieved great things, many of them, like the European empires of old, upon the straining backs of slave labor. It was time for justice," he added.
"This is a rational nation doing its business," concluded regular reader and commenter Kathy from the town of Export, Pennsylvania. "We have been irrational for far too long. We still have too many irrational lawmakers, police officers and other people in positions of trust acting out of malice and forethought. The opposite of love is not hate, it's fear. Fear drives people to do completely insane things."
Meanwhile in Russia
While Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual address Wednesday warning foreign powers against crossing his "red lines," protesters hit the streets of Moscow in a warning of their own, writes Meanwhile's Shelby Rose.
"We really don't want to burn bridges," Putin said. "But if someone perceives our intentions as indifference or weakness and is ready to burn or even blow up bridges, then Russia's response will be asymmetrical, swift and harsh."
with the US and other Western powers are high over recently imposed sanctions
, Moscow's massive military buildup on Ukraine's borders and the treatment of imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
Meanwhile, masses of protesters in at least 29 cities across the country proved that locking away one critical voice won't ensure peace and quiet at home. Marchers demanded Navalny's release from prison and that he be allowed to receive independent medical care after three weeks of a hunger strike. The US is weighing retaliation
if Navalny dies in Russian custody.