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USA to Re-enter the Paris Agreement
As the world tackles the climate crisis there is finally some good news to report. Shortly after being sworn into office, Joe Biden moved to reinstate the US to the Paris climate change agreement while his administration began rolling out a number of executive orders aimed at tackling climate change.
The USA is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses and, after being removed by Donald Trump, will re-join the international effort to curb the dangerous heating of the planet.
The Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris, on 12th December 2015 and entered into force on 4th November 2016.
The aim of the Paris Agreement, sometimes referred to the Paris Accord, is to limit global warming to well below two, preferably to one and a half, degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in an attempt to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.
Under the Paris Agreement, each country must determine, plan and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming. No mechanism forces a country to set a specific emissions target by a specific date, but each target should surpass previously set targets.
The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
As of January 2021, 190 members of the UNFCCC are parties to the agreement. Of the seven UNFCCC member states which have never ratified the agreement, the only major emitters are Iran, Turkey and Iraq. The United States denounced the agreement in 2020, but accepted it again on 20th January 2021, with entry into force on 19th February 2021.
A Brighter Future
During his inaugural address, Biden emphasised that America needs to respond to a “climate in crisis” and a new list of priorities on the White House website now lists the climate crisis at the top of the list, second only to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Climate change poses the greatest threat to America, which was pummelled by climate-fuelled wildfires, hurricanes and heat last year. The USA’s re-entry into the Paris Agreement Is not only a big first step for themselves, but is also a big step towards limiting global temperatures.
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