The US is officially back in the Paris climate accord, just over three months after it left.
Wasting no time, President Joe Biden signed an executive order stating his intention to reverse the US withdrawal from the agreement on the day of his inauguration last month.
It comes after his predecessor, Donald Trump, formally withdrew the US from the accord in November 2020, making it the only country in the world to back out.
The Paris agreement, drawn up in 2015, asked for a united, global response to the threat of climate change.
All nations who signed the agreement promised to work towards the aim of lowering global temperatures and limiting further temperature increases. The international goal is to keep warming below 2°C since pre-industrial times. So far, the globe has already warmed 1.2°C since then.
Now, just 107 days after Trump officially left, the US is back in. Since taking office, tackling the climate crisis has been at the top of Biden’s agenda. In his first week, he signed an executive order which aims to undo more than 100 of Donald Trump’s environmental policies and suspended all new oil and gas leases on federal land and water.
António Guterres, UN secretary-general welcomed the news, and said the US’s official re-entry ‘is very important’.
He said now the US has rejoined, it must develop a new emissions-cutting target, known as a ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’. This will outline the administration’s aims to tackle emissions over the next decade.
‘We hope they will translate into a very meaningful reduction of emissions and they will be an example for other countries to follow,’ Guterres said at a press conference yesterday, February 18.
‘The US is the largest economy in the world, it can play an extremely important role, and the technological capacity of the US will be, of course, very, very important,’ he added.
Christiana Figueres the former UN climate chief said she had feared other nations would have followed suit after the US withdrew from the agreement, but none did.
While Trump’s administration did not formally withdraw until November 2020, she said the real issue was four years of inaction while Trump was in office.
‘From a political symbolism perspective, whether it’s 100 days or four years, it’s basically the same thing. It’s not about how many days. It’s the political symbolism that the largest economy refuses to see the opportunity of addressing climate change. We’ve lost too much time,’ Figueres said.
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