On January 20, 2021 Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn into office as President of the United States. That same day, he signed an executive order to re-join the Paris Climate Accord, originally signed in Paris on December 12, 2015. The Paris Climate Accord was initially joined by former President Barack Obama in December 2015. In June 2017, former President Donald Trump then announced the formal removal of the US from this landmark international agreement, citing that the agreement was too drastic for the United States to safely participate. Critics of the Climate Accord argued that the agreement would greatly decrease energy-related jobs, limit the US’s ability to pursue meaningful energy production, and lead to unnecessary tax-hikes for taxpayers. Trump’s move to exit the agreement established the US as the only country in the world to withdraw from the agreement, and only one of three countries at the time not actively participating in the international effort.
This Paris Climate Accord is an innovative and unprecedented approach unmatched by any international diplomacy to encourage nations to commit to combating the climate crisis. The Climate Accord seeks to mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions and limit temperature increase across the globe to only 2 degrees Celsius, while encouraging nations to pursue new strategies and technologies to limit temperature increase to only 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Accord was designed to facilitate participant transparency through monitoring and reporting by each country, thus leading to global dedication and accountability.
By joining the Climate Accord again in 2021, the United States has once again committed to fighting for a safe, equitable, and stable environment for generations to come. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the US emitted over 5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air in 2019, nearly 1/8 of all emissions created across the globe that year. Climate change has already begun to impact the US, as evidenced by severe uncontained wildfires spreading throughout the West and coastal flooding in populated cities, to more frequent and often devastating “100-year” flooding and storm events occurring across the nation. As a significant emitter of pollutants, it is critical that the US take accountability for our efforts to create a healthier, cleaner, and safer world for US citizens and the international community alike.
With President Biden’s executive order signed on January 20, 2021, the United States is set to formally re-enter the Paris Climate Accord 30 days following the receipt of the formal letter written to the United Nations.