Biden hosts global climate change summit on Earth Day

By Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT) April 23, 2021
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7:33 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Biden has made climate a key focus. Here's what the White House has done so far on the topic.

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

In December 2020, before officially taking office, President Biden announced his climate team. It was a historic display of the then-President-elect's effort to prioritize his administration's response to the climate crisis.

"I'm pleased to announce a team that will lead my administration's ambitious plan to address the existential threat of our time, climate change," Biden said at the time.

On his first day in office, Biden took executive actions to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, cancel the Keystone XL pipeline and direct agencies to review and reverse more than 100 Trump actions on the environment.

Just a week later, Biden signed several more executive actions related to the climate crisis, including one directing the secretary of the interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters.

Since the early days of his administration, Biden and other administration officials have emphasized that the White House is taking a "whole of government" approach to climate change.

They've also underscored that they believe the President's actions will help spur job growth, and categorize people working in industries vulnerable to job loss, such as coal miners, under their umbrella of environmental justice.

"It's about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that we exist with as now facing us, climate change, with a greater sense of urgency," he said at a January signing ceremony. "In my view, we've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can't wait any longer."

7:28 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping confirmed their attendance at today's climate summit

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed they are attending the US-hosted two-day virtual summit on climate.

The White House said a total of 40 world leaders were invited to the conference, which will be live streamed to the public.

"President Biden took action his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement. Days later, on January 27, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders summit to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis," the White House said in a statement.

"The Leaders Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency — and the economic benefits — of stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow," it continued.

On the campaign trail, Biden made climate change a central issue, setting a goal of ensuring that the US achieves net-zero emissions by 2050. He signed several executive actions his first week in office related to the climate crisis, including one directing the secretary of the interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters.

The President and other administration officials have emphasized that the White House is taking a "whole of government" approach to climate change. They've also underscored that they believe the President's actions will help spur job growth, and categorize people working in industries vulnerable to job loss, such as coal miners, under their umbrella of environmental justice.

The event marks the first time since former President Barack Obama left office that the US has taken the lead on climate change issues. President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord and was often publicly skeptical that global warming was a real phenomenon.