World leaders, activists & pope make Earth Day appeals

GRETA THUNBERG: "Unlike you, my generation will not give up without a fight."

Eighteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg sought to shame U.S. lawmakers on Thursday during a House hearing on fossil fuel subsidies, calling tax breaks for that industry a "disgrace" and said history would judge those in favor of them harshly.

THUNBERG: "How long do you honestly believe that people in power like you will get away with it? How long do you think you can continue to ignore the climate crisis, the global aspect of equity and historic emissions without being held accountable? ... We, the young people, are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books. We are the ones who get to decide how you will be remembered."

The hearing fell on the day President Joe Biden began a virtual two-day Earth Day global climate summit with the leaders of 40 countries and said the United States - the world's second-leading emitter - would cut greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

U.S. CLIMATE ENVOY JOHN KERRY: "Will we probably exceed it? I suspect yes."

Later, at a White House briefing, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told reporters that the U.S. will likely exceed that pledge.

China - the world's top emitter - said it would begin phasing out coal.

And Brazil announced its most ambitious environmental goal yet, saying the country would reach emissions neutrality 10 years earlier than its previous target.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro had sought to closely align with the United States under former President Donald Trump, who did not criticize Brazil's environmental policy despite a major surge in Amazon rainforest deforestation and fires.

But the Biden administration appears to have forced a realignment in relations by placing the environment at the center of U.S.-Brazil talks.

POPE FRANCIS (ITALIAN): "Now is the time to act."

Meanwhile, Pope Francis said in his Earth Day message on Thursday that the planet was "at the brink" and that humanity had to avoid "the path of self destruction."

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