As US President Joe Biden's climate summit ended Friday, a new hope has risen over the future of the earth after the dark days of the Trump era.
The US, as the second top polluter, contributing to 15 percent of the world's total has made some specific commitments such as cutting its carbon emission by 50% to 52% relative to 2005 levels by 2030.
On the other hand, China, the top polluter, had not been so forthcoming and was rather modest in its target setting. In response to Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to reduce coal consumption between 2026 and 2030.
China would hit the peak of its coal use by 2030 before getting to net-zero emissions by 2060.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a new challenge on countries in quest for growth, meaning more and more energy use with less care for the environment, the summit had just prised open the door for more discussions and positive steps.
At least it had sounded a distant death-knell loud and clear for the coal industry that many countries including China and India rely on for energy.
Even in the US, some 200 coal-fired plants are still in use all of which will have to shut down by 2030 if Biden's 50 percent emission cut promise has to have any truth in it. But alongside this, the US will have to invest massively in clean energy which will help it to grow on a robust strand from the pandemic.
This is why Biden told the summit: "Within our climate response lies an extraordinary engine of job creation and economic opportunity ready to be fired up."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in's announcement at the summit that his country would cut off all overseas financing of coal only bolstered what the US and China pledged.
However, the summit went soft on the gas industry, another prime source of methane that destroys the ozone layer. No specific mentions of controlling gas use was made except for by Russian President Vladimir Putin who talked about the role of methane but shied away from any commitment with Russia being a major exporter of gas.
So while the oil-producing Arab countries can fret about the future of their oil-fuelled economy, they can safely stick to exporting gas.
But a new silver lining was visible when a new private-public sector initiative launched on Thursday involving big companies such as Nestle, Unilever, Amazon and Salesforce has given a new spin to saving the climate by preventing tropical deforestation.
This is one of the largest ever such efforts and the aim is to stymie the deforestation process that has jumped 12 percent compared to 2019 with large patches being cleared of trees in Brazil, Congo and Bolivia.
Under the scheme, tropical forest countries would receive funds if they can prove they reduced deforestation. For each ton of reduction in carbon emissions by stopping deforestation, they would yield a carbon credit worth at least $10. It will create a new kind of carbon trading where polluting companies will then buy these credits against their emissions.
Unfortunately, although the UK and Norway governments are spearheading this partnership scheme, Brazil, which had witnessed the highest deforestation under the careless policies of its president Jair Bolsonaro, showed little compunction when it cut its environmental budget by about a fourth just a day after the summit.
Despite all this, the summit opened talks that were stalled and derailed during the Trump era. Already the world is much hotter than the pre-industrial time and the goal to keep the rise within 1.5 degree of pre-industrial average temperature was on the way to get derailed.
As the economy is set to rebound after the pandemic, so will emission. The summit will help the world to rein in its mindless growth ambition.