Biden’s Summit marks kick off to crunch year for climate action

Posted on 16 April 2021

The Climate Leaders Summit, hosted by US President Joe Biden, could accelerate the political momentum needed to ensure a successful outcome at COP26, and cement the foundations for effective delivery in the years to come.

(16 April 2021) - The Leaders’ Summit on Climate, a meeting being hosted by US President Biden, kicks off both the ‘decade of delivery’ for climate, nature and development and a crunch year for climate action. The two-day meeting starts on Earth Day, 22 April.


Many leaders from the world’s biggest economies and from some of the world’s most vulnerable countries, will convene virtually to discuss how to unlock the transformative change required to tackle the climate crisis.


The expected announcement by the US of its revised climate emission targets and the anticipated announcements by leaders attending, is a chance for the Summit to accelerate the political momentum needed to ensure a successful outcome at COP26, so lay the foundations for effective delivery in the years to come.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy said: “The overriding quest by leaders attending this summit must be to catalyse efforts that keep the 1.5°C goal within reach. They must announce tangible actions that accelerate the transformational change needed to halve global emissions by 2030.

“We won’t meet this goal if we don’t unlock the political will needed to ensure a successful outcome at COP26, and put the elements on the table - like climate finance - necessary to implement plans. We are waiting anxiously for the world’s richest countries - including the United States - to lead by example with the greatest ambition, putting promises into action,” he said.

Pulgar-Vidal said the commitments made by cities, business and other sub-national organizations must also be reflected in national climate plans, which need to be backed-up with conducive policy environments. “Very specifically, leaders must include concrete policies and actions to scale up nature-based solutions and phase out harmful subsidies, starting with eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies.”

He further encouraged leaders to sign up to the Leaders Pledge for Nature, and to speed up the implementation of those commitments.

The overarching focus of the summit is increasing climate ambition. This is most evident in the national climate plans (or Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs) which countries are required to submit to the UN as part of their Paris Agreement commitments and in long-term strategies.  Cutting through these are critical issues of adaptation and resilience and climate finance. 


WWF believes the following are crucial to these:

  • A strong whole-of-society approach: Push to ground all long-term strategy net zero commitments and ambitious NDCs in immediate, transformative decarbonization actions across sectors of the economy. While it should be no substitute for national action, leaders’ statements should embrace the critical role that businesses, cities, states, other sub-national institutions will play in implementation and their commitment to back-up their progressive action with conducive national policy.   
  • Bring greater emphasis and action to nature-based solutions: Encourage country commitments to be inclusive of quality nature-based solutions as part of their plan to both reduce emissions and build resilience. This should include:   
    • Additional support of the Leaders Pledge for Nature, as well as a commitment to nature to 30% of international climate finance and an  overall increase in climate finance. 
    • A commitment to end deforestation and habitat conversion.
    • Ecosystem-based adaptation opportunities in all countries.Economic stimulus and recovery packages that are climate and nature-positive.
  • Scale up public and private finance: Increase and encourage core finance commitments to bring the support needed to the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility, and other such public finance mechanisms while harnessing the power of private finance to mobilize investors, including through TCFD and TNFD. This should also include a firm commitment to eliminate harmful subsidies, beginning with a firm deadline to end fossil fuel subsidies by G20 later this year

Notes to Editors:
Find out more about WWF’s recommendations for how the Biden administration should act on climate going into the summit here. Additional WWF materials related to the Leaders’ Summit on Climate here (statements, op-eds, events).

WWF is hosting the following key events during the US Climate Action Week:    



The Political Legacy of 2021: Reflections from Past COP Presidents & Climate Leaders.  Join Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, (WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy and COP20 President) and his guests Laurent Fabius (COP21 President, President of the Constitutional Council of France); Carolina Schmidt (COP25 President, Chilean Minister of Environment), Dr Jonathan Pershing (Senior Advisor to US Presidential Envoy on Climate) and Helen Mountford (Vice President, Climate & Economics, WRI) in a conversation about possible elements for the legacy of the 2021 momentum to multilateralism, with a focus on COP26. It takes place on Tuesday 20 April at 8am EDT.  Register here to join.


Scaling Business Action for Climate and Nature: A CEO Dialogue

Join WWF-US CEO Carter Roberts and corporate leaders for a dialogue about making corporate climate leadership a reality on Wednesday 21 April at 3 pm ET

Register here to join.


All In For Climate: How a Whole-of-Society Approach Can Accelerate the Race to Zero  Join Alliances for Climate Action and the UNFCCC Race to Zero Campaign for a conversation with leading subnational and non-state actors to discuss the opportunities that a “whole-of-society” approach to the climate crisis offers. It takes place on Wednesday 21 April at 8 am ET. Register here to join.


Our Planet: Too Big To Fail 

Join WWF and the British Embassy for a virtual screening of the film: Our Planet: Too Big To Fail. The fill will be followed by a panel discussion with some cast members  and special guests on how we can transform the global financial system to deliver a sustainable, net-zero future. It takes place on Wednesday, April 21 at 9am ET. Register here to join.


Our experts are available for interviews/comments/analysis before, during and after the Summit:





WWF International 

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal

WWF Global Lead, 

Climate & Energy 

Climate narrative

Global expectations for the Summit

Implications for COP26

Political assessment


Mandy Jean Woods 

+49 1511 885 4162


Karen Richards 

+44 775 552 59

Vanessa Perez-Cirera

WWF Deputy Global Lead, 

Climate & Energy 

Climate narrative

International policy

Nature-based solutions

Sectoral transformation

Margaret Kuhlow

WWF Global Lead, Finance

Climate finance

Public, private sector, multilateral financing

Key initiatives in the finance sector contributing to climate action momentum (like TCFD, TNFD)


Carter Roberts


WWF-US Key priorities, initiatives

US policy

Private sector engagement


Evan Carlson 

+1 202 495-4756

Marcene Mitchell

WWF-US SVP for Climate Change

WWF-US climate change initiatives

US Policy

Mariana Panuncio-Feldman

WWF US Senior Director, Climate Policy Action

Alliances for Climate Action

America Is All In

Role of non-state actors in galvanizing climate action

Genevieve Maricle

WWF US Director, US Climate Policy Action

America Is All 

US Policy

The White House, Washington, D.C.
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