US President Joe Biden has vowed that his country would lead the world's charge to confront the "existential threat" of the climate crisis, as he signed a raft of new orders and announced a global summit in April.

The measures included placing a hold on new oil and gas drilling on federal lands and offshore, as the leader of the world's second biggest carbon emitter began making good on his campaign pledges.

"We've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis," said Mr Biden.

"We can't wait any longer. We see it with our own eyes, we feel it. We know it in our bones.

"I'm signing today an executive order to supercharge our administration's ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change ... we must lead the global response."

Mr Biden has appointed former secretary of state John Kerry as his international climate envoy and said the US will host a Leaders' Climate Summit on 22 April, the fifth anniversary of the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement.

The US is expected to announce drastically increased emission goals at the meeting, with the domestic policy push required to get there led by environmental expert Gina McCarthy.

Mr Kerry earlier said the US would be willing to work with China on climate negotiations, despite the two countries' disagreements on other issues ranging from intellectual property theft to South China Sea tension.

John Kerry (C) pictured at the White House

"Those issues will never be traded for anything that has to do with climate, that's not going to happen. But climate is a critical standalone issue that we have to deal on," he said.

Environmental groups applauded the administration for getting the ball rolling on its green promises.

John Morton, former senior director for Energy and Climate Change in Barack Obama's White House who is now at climate advisory firm Pollination, said the actions "should leave no doubt that climate change will be front and center priority throughout this administration".

"Today's announcements herald the leadership we desperately need to tackle environmental injustice and our climate emergency," added Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen.

Former president of Ireland and chair of The Elders Group Mary Robinson said this is "a vital year" as it is when all governments have to make their commitments as to where they will be in 2030 regarding climate change and "hopefully it will be zero emissions by 2050".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mrs Robinson said the language used by Mr Biden to describe the climate crisis was appropriate and the series of executive orders he signed to address the issue are "real".

She said: "I was glad that he pledged to put environment justice at the centre of all we do," adding that "a drive from the US is needed to push other countries like China and India to be part of the way forward."

Mrs Robinson said Mr Biden has also reflected on the need for a transition for those who work in coal and oil and gas as they move to zero emissions by 2050 and "in so far as he possibly could he has fulfilled his pledge."