The US is back in the Paris Agreement. Now what?

  • The US is back in the Paris Agreement. Now what?

The US is back in the Paris Agreement. Now what?

The US withdrew from the pact last November under the administration of then President Donald Trump.

While the return is heavily symbolic, world leaders have said they expect the United States to prove its seriousness upon the nation's return to the fold.

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that the official American re-entry "is itself very important", as is Mr Biden's announcement that the USA will return to providing climate aid to poorer nations, as promised in 2009.

Blinken, in a statement Friday, described the agreement as an "unprecedented framework for global action".

The president signed an executive order on his first day in office reversing the pullout ordered by Mr Trump.

Despite the excitement over the USA return to global negotiations, climate negotiators say the path forward will not be easy.

Blinken, on Friday, said "as momentous" as the United States' first joining was in 2016, and as "momentous as our rejoining is today-what we do in the coming weeks, months, and years is even more important".

He expressed optimism regarding President Joe Biden's commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

"The last four years have been odd ones, with many USA states and businesses pressing ahead with decarbonisation and its citizens feeling climate change impacts even as Donald Trump continued to deny the problem and undermine the solutions", said Richard Black of the UK's Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

"From a political symbolism perspective, whether it's 100 days or four years, it's basically the same thing", she said.

"We've lost too much time".

United Nations Environment Program Director Inger Andersen said America has to prove its leadership to the rest of the world, but she said she has no doubt it will when it submits its required emissions cutting targets.

He also said he hopes the emissions reduction targets the USA presents to the United Nations will help guide other countries.

Also, investment in clean energy generates more jobs than investing in fossil fuels due to clean energy's more labor-intensive nature, according to the WRI. "It is vital in our discussions of national security, migration, worldwide health efforts, and in our economic diplomacy and trade talks", he said. "The urgency of the crisis is clear, and this means a new USA target of at least 50% GHG cuts on 2005 levels by 2030, ideally more".

INVESTMENT SIGNAL In particular, Biden's swift 180-degree turn on USA climate policy, combined with rapidly falling costs for clean energy, mean "the signal to investors and markets couldn't be clearer: the destination is net zero by mid-century", Black said.

No other country has emitted more cumulative carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the industrial era began in the mid-1800s than the United States. The Paris accord mandates its signatories to present their reduction goals to the world body. The goal is to prevent average global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.

195 climate groups signed a petition this week calling on Biden to ensure that the U.S. contributes its "fair share" to limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the toughest target in the Paris Agreement.