President Joe Biden and environmental envoy John Kerry led the global climate-change summit, two old men setting the economic course for future generations.
The 78-year-old Biden and 77-year-old Kerry called on world leaders to slash emissions and mitigate climate change's threat to the planet.
Biden pledged that the United States will cut CO2 discharges 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. That will bring a transformation in the U.S. economy, the New York Times reported.
Biden's administration is mobilizing the global campaign against climate change after years of inadequate response.
As U.S. senators and Democratic Party leaders since the 1960s, Biden and Kerry were members of a generation that refused to heed climate change warnings. Now, the world must act with urgency.
With carbon emissions soaring again as China and other Asian countries step up their demand for coal, even more drastic steps than Biden's plans will be needed, according to environmentalists.
The Biden effort to shift from a petroleum-based economy doesn't include a carbon tax, once considered essential in efforts to cut emissions.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said Friday that political opposition led to the shift away from the carbon tax. Krugman also claimed that technological innovation and lower costs for wind and solar power generation make the carbon tax less important, before conceding that the tax likely will be necessary in the future.
Claims that Biden didn't include a carbon-tax proposal because of political opposition are puzzling, since Biden didn't worry about the lack of GOP support in passing his massive Covid stimulus act. Petroleum companies now support a carbon tax, and even some Republicans might accept such a proposal.
Democratic Party progressives and environmentalists apparently have shifted away from the carbon tax, which would put a price on the production of carbon. Long supported by Times columnist Thomas Friedman, the carbon tax should remain a fundamental pillar of the campaign to reduce emissions. Under proposals by Friedman and others, the tax would not burden American households.
Democratic Party supporters hope Biden and Kerry remain active and witness the transformation of the U.S. economy they envision. But by 2030, a younger generation of Democratic leaders such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be in command. A younger, even more progressive generation will be emerging.
Perhaps the science-denying and reactionary Republican Party will by then shift course and join in the battle against climate change, along with conservative parties around the world. Once, GOP stalwart John McCain called for ambitious cap and trade legislation and a 60 percent reduction in emissions. That was in 2007, before the GOP turned to ignorance.
GOP intransigence on climate change and social reform makes the 2022 congressional election and 2024 presidential election vital for the nation and the world's future. Biden's climate change proposal is another ambitious effort to place the Democratic Party in the vanguard of the future, while the GOP remains mired in the past.
Both Biden and Kerry have overcome hardships and major political defeats to lead the world's efforts to survive climate change. They are atoning for decades of negligence, hoping to save the planet for unborn generations.