Biden brings the United States back to the Paris Climate Agreement. Will it matter?


With the blow with a pen from his new office in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden pulled the United States back into the Paris climate agreement on Wednesday, an international agreement that experts say is key to bringing nations to the world to slow greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet. The executive decree – the third of the 17 executive orders or actions issued on his first day in office – means U.S. officials will now begin calculating a new target for the nation’s overall carbon emissions by 2030.

This goal, in turn, will force federal, state, and business policymakers to set new standards for factories, cars, and power plants to use cleaner energy to achieve this goal, while likely providing both incentives and penalties to reduce overall energy consumption by all. US residents.

If that wasn’t enough for climate action, Biden also signed an order canceling the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, a quantity of oil that the production, refining and combustion would create the equivalent. of 35.5 million carbon dioxide emissions cars per year. Another executive order signed Wednesday orders federal agencies to block former President Donald Trump’s previous weakening of federal rules that limited emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas drilling operations, in order to revise fuel economy and vehicle emission standards, and update efficiency standards for devices and buildings.

In the same way his dogs Major and Champ, Biden brings with him to the White House a large team of climate change experts, including new senior climate advisers in the State, Treasury and Transportation departments, as well as the National Security Council and the bureau. of the vice-president. Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy is currently being asked to head a new White House office on climate policy; former Secretary of State John Kerry will be Biden’s new international climate envoy; and David Hayes, former Deputy Home Secretary, has been appointed Biden’s special assistant on climate policy, The New York Times reported.

Experts say these day one measures will put the United States on a better course to tackle climate change at home and abroad. “The Paris announcement is really important because it puts the United States back in the global conversation,” says Jake schmidt, Director General of the International Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This means Biden can also use the influence of the United States to influence other countries to act more aggressively on climate change. We argued that we need to have a climate oriented foreign policy. “

This approach could work in negotiations with countries like Mexico or Brazil, two countries whose current populist leaders have blocked investments in renewable energy (Mexico) and boosted deforestation (Brazil), Schmidt said. If either country wants to make trade deals with the United States, Biden could ask them to make climate progress in return. Meanwhile, smaller countries see Biden’s election as a return to normalcy and hopefully progress on climate change, especially in countries feeling the heat of rising sea levels and increase in tropical storms.

But experts also warn that there are many hurdles to overcome. Trump’s four years were marked by contempt of science, weakening of environmental regulations, and categorical refusal of the perils of climate change. In fact, one of Trump’s first executive actions was to announce that the United States was going withdraw from the Paris agreement, which the United States joined in 2016 under then-President Barack Obama. (The withdrawal process started in 2019 and became official on November 4, 2020 – the day after Trump lost his candidacy for re-election.)

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