Last week, Joe Biden reinstated the US to the Paris climate agreement just hours after being sworn in as president, as his administration rolled out a list of executive orders aimed at tackling the climate crisis.
Biden’s executive action, signed in the White House last Wednesday, will see the US re-join the international effort to reduce dangerous greenhouse emissions that are heating the planet. The world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases withdrew from the Paris deal under Donald Trump formally on the 4th November 2020, coincidentally on the day following the 2020 US presidential election.
The flurry of first-day action on the climate crisis came after Biden, in his inauguration speech, as he said America needed to respond to a “climate in crisis”. The change in direction from the Trump era was profound and immediate. As on the White House website, where all mentions of climate were scrubbed out in 2017, with a new list of priorities that puts the climate crisis second behind the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden had previously warned that climate change poses the “greatest threat” to the country, which was battered by record climate-fuelled wildfires, hurricanes and heat last year.
The return to the Paris agreement ends a period where the US became a outcast on the international stage with Trump’s refusal to address the unfolding disaster of rising global temperatures. A significant number of Countries are struggling to meet commitments, made in Paris in 2015, to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial era, with 2020 setting another record for extreme heat.
Biden is expected to organise an international climate summit in the spring to help accelerate emissions cuts and will likely submit a new US emissions reduction goal to help it reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Gina McCarthy, Biden’s top climate adviser, said Biden will in all reverse “more than 100” climate-related policies enacted by Trump. McCarthy stated that climate change poses an “existential threat” and the administration’s opening salvo “will begin to put the US back on the right footing, a footing we need to restore American leadership, helping to position our nation to be the global leader in clean energy and jobs”.
Biden will be able to limit fossil fuel development on federal land and set tougher rules for fuel efficiency in cars and trucks but sweeping climate legislation to make deeper cuts in emissions will be more challenging to get through Congress.
While Democrats control the House, the Senate is split 50-50 and is unlikely to embrace anything styled like the Green New Deal, which has been championed by progressive representatives. Instead, Biden’s hopes of providing huge financial support to boost clean energy such as solar and low-carbon heating may rely upon funding being included in budgets and infrastructure bills.
Scientists and climate campaigners have welcomed the urgency voiced by Biden given the ever-worsening impacts of the climate crisis across the world.
With President Biden taking swift action to tackle the climate emergency and his administration ensuring that they meet the demands of science, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution, it shows big changes that will help everyone.
Additionally, the new administration having signed a statement accepting the terms of the agreement. It was sent to the United Nations, and the US is now set to formally re-enter the Paris agreement in 30 days and get the planet back on track to cut global emissions.