Hours after taking the oath of office as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden took steps to reverse some of President Donald Trump’s environmental policies.
U.S. President Joe Biden took action to bring the United States back to the Paris International Agreement to Combat Climate Change on Wednesday, the centerpiece of a series of day one executive orders aimed at restoring U.S. leadership in the fight against global warming.
Biden’s actions will also include a sweeping order to review all of former President Donald Trump’s actions weakening climate change protections, the revocation of a vital license for TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline project in the Canada and a moratorium on oil and gas rental activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that the Trump administration recently opened for development, Biden aides said.
The orders will mark the start of a major policy reversal in the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China, after four years in which the Trump administration pilloried climate science and canceled environmental regulations to maximize the development of fossil fuels.
Biden has vowed to put the United States on a path to net zero emissions by 2050 to match the large and rapid global reductions scientists believe are necessary to avoid the most devastating effects of global warming, by using brakes on global warming. fossil fuels and massive investments in clean energy.
The road will not be easy, however, with political divisions in the United States, opposition from fossil fuel companies and wary international partners concerned about the US policy changes standing in the way.
“We’ve strayed a lot over the past four years with a climate denier in the Oval Office,” said John Podesta, adviser to former President Barack Obama who helped craft the 2015 Paris Agreement. “We are entering the international scene with a credibility deficit.”
Biden’s ordinances will also force government agencies to consider revising vehicle fuel efficiency standards and methane emission reductions and exploring the possibility of re-expanding the boundaries of national wilderness monuments whose size had been reduced by the Trump administration.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has criticized Biden’s decision to halt oil and gas work in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, saying the new president “appears to be keeping his promise to turn Alaska into a great National Park”.
Difficult road ahead
Global counterparts and climate advocates have welcomed Washington’s return to cooperation on climate change, but expressed skepticism about its persistence and ability to overcome domestic political turmoil.
Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement late last year, arguing that it was too costly for the U.S. economy and was sweeping away many environmental protections he saw as onerous for the U.S. drillers, miners and manufacturers.
“The United States continues to be the one and only country to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which makes it, frankly, the pariah of this multilateral agreement,” the Reuters news agency told Reuters. former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.
Biden can regain the credibility of the United States by “doing the homework” of ambitious climate action at home.
Brian Deese, new director of Biden’s National Economic Council, told Reuters news agency that the United States hopes to encourage other major emitters to also “push their ambition, even as we have to demonstrate our ability to come back. on stage and show leadership ”. .
Hua Chunying, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, is anxiously awaiting the United States’ return to the Paris Pact.
Pete Betts, an associate researcher at London think tank Chatham House who led the climate negotiations for the European Union when the Paris deal was reached, said the United States will also have to deliver on its promises through commitments financial.
The United States under Obama pledged $ 3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help vulnerable countries tackle climate change. So far it has only shipped $ 1 billion.
“The United States will have to put money on the table and encourage others to do the same,” he said.
Biden has appealed to former Secretary of State John Kerry as his international climate envoy and is expected to hold a meeting in the coming weeks with his global counterparts.