US officially rejoins Paris climate accord

The United States of America has officially re-joined the Paris Climate accord Friday, at least 107 days after it had quit the pact and 30 days after President Joe Biden fulfilled his promise on his first day in office. Today’s development is deeply symbolic for the rest of the world even as political leaders across the globe hope that America rises to the occasion and fulfill its climate ambitions.

On his first day in office, President Biden had signed an executive order reversing the Paris Climate accord pullout ordered by his predecessor, President Donald Trump, in 2019. “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” Biden had said in his inaugural address. “A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.”

In December 2015, 195 countries signed an agreement to slow the process of global warming by making efforts to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”.

Speaking on the development, Laurence Tubiana, France’s Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21 and CEO of the European Climate Foundation, hailed the US re-entry but added a note of caution that “the climate crisis is deepening”.

“It’s good to have the US back in the Paris Agreement, but sadly we have no time to celebrate. The climate crisis is deepening and this is the year we need all major polluters to step up and deliver stronger plans to deliver a safe, clean and prosperous future for everyone. The US needs to come to COP26 with a strong commitment: the urgency of the crisis is clear, and this means a new US target of at least 50% GHG cuts on 2005 levels by 2030, ideally more,” she said.

Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Champions for Chile’s COP25 and the UK’s COP26 summits respectively, welcomed the decision saying it would boost international climate cooperation en route to COP26.

Meanwhile, even as the US formally joined the Paris Agreement, US Special Envoy on Climate Crisis, John Kerry asserted categorically that all 17 major emitting countries, which includes India, need to start acting on their climate ambitions and begin lowering emissions.

Speaking at a virtual event, Kerry was quoted as saying, “Everything has to be done with greater sense of urgency, with a determination that we have to win this fight… and we need the United States and every country to determine they will get on a path toward net zero emissions by 2050.”