Energy & Environment

US officially rejoins Paris climate agreement 

The U.S. on Friday officially rejoined the Paris Agreement after former President Trump withdrew from the deal.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order that set the country on track to rejoin the global accord, but it took 30 days for the country to formally reenter. 

Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry stressed at an event on Friday that there is still more work to be done. 

“We know that just doing Paris is not enough,” Kerry said. “If every country delivered, we’d still see a warming planet Earth.”

Under the Paris deal, the world’s countries agree to attempt to limit the planet’s warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with the further goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. 

The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the agreement, arguing that it was burdensome for business and workers. 

But Biden has stressed that he sees an opportunity for jobs as the country moves toward clean energy. He has also argued that climate change is among several crises the country currently faces. 

“This is good news for the United States and for the world,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said during remarks at an event with Kerry. “For the past four years, the absence of a key player created a gap in the Paris agreement, a missing link.”

Kerry will be leading much of the administration’s climate diplomacy, including at a United Nations conference set for November in Scotland, where countries will formally adopt more stringent climate commitments.

Former President Obama set the goal of reducing U.S. emissions by between 26 and 28 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2025. 

The U.S. has not increased its commitments since Obama joined the agreement, while other countries have set more ambitious goals. 

The United Kingdom and the European Union have said they would reduce their emissions by 68 percent and 40 percent, respectively, below 1990 levels by 2030. 

Biden administration officials have said that they will announce updated goals before a summit on Earth Day this year.

Kerry said at the event with Guterres that all countries including the U.S. have to “raise ambition.”

“We need the United States and every country to determine they will get on a path toward net-zero emissions by 2050. That is not something that we will do by countries just stepping up and saying ‘hey, we commit,'” the special envoy said. 

“That doesn’t cut it…We go to Glasgow, all of us, being real about exactly what we need to do starting now. What steps will we take in the next 10 years?” Kerry added. 

He particularly singled out large emitters as needing to be part of efforts over the next decade. 

“Everybody has to do that, China, which is the largest emitter in the world, needs to be part of the 2020 to 2030 effort, India needs to be part of it, Russia needs to be part of it, Japan, all the big emitting countries in the world,” Kerry said.  

Biden has also said he hopes to set the country on the course to carbon neutrality by 2050. 

White House domestic climate adviser Gina McCarthy stressed during remarks Friday that carrying out the country’s climate goals needs to be done in a way that gives people hope. 

“If we work together we can make sure that we don’t just protect the planet, but we grow jobs with clean energy, that we do it in a way that’s going to rebuild our economy,” she said.

—Updated at 4:14 p.m.

Tags Antony Blinken biden administration Climate change Donald Trump Gina McCarthy Joe Biden John Kerry Paris Accord Paris agreement

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