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US officially joins Paris deal, vowing to make up for lost time

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Now, the Biden administration will try to make up for lost time and make amends for those countries that are among the nations in the global fight against climate change after President Donald Trump made the United States the only country to abandon it. agreement.

From his earliest days in office, President Biden has indicated he is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and urged other countries to do the same, repeatedly calling the rising temperatures of crisis and existential threat to civilization. Hours after taking the oath, he sent a letter to the United Nations to kick off the 30-day process to join the landmark 2015 deal that was negotiated under his former boss, President Barack Obama.

John F. Kerry, former secretary of state appointed as Bidens’ special climate envoy, said the next 10 years will be a decisive decade for nations to reduce emissions and prevent mass migration, food insecurity and other calamities that could result from the climate. change.

It’s what people will do in the next 10 years that counts, he told the Munich security conference on Friday. This is what we need to talk about.

Keeping that election promise amounts to a complete repudiation of Trump, who has spent years denigrating the global scientific consensus that human activity is causing global warming. Although the United States technically left the Paris Agreement for only 107 days, Bidens’ to-do list is long.

The administration plans to step up the country’s emission reduction commitments while urging emerging economies such as China and India to cut back on building coal-fired power plants and Brazil to further preserve the Amazon. At the same time, Biden will face a deeply divided Congress and other competing factions in his country as his administration develops a regulatory and legislative agenda to cut emissions.

The Biden administration reinstated the agreement with great fanfare. On Friday, Kerry will join the Italian and British ambassadors to discuss ways to work together. And the White House plans to host a larger summit of presidents and prime ministers on April 22 to mark Earth Day.

All of this is the prelude to a United Nations climate conference in Scotland in November, where world leaders are expected to arrive with more ambitious climate commitments. Existing emission reduction commitments are by many estimates woefully insufficient to prevent dangerous warming that is already evident around the world in the form of forest fires, drought, melting glaciers, loss species, coastal flooding and other extreme weather conditions.

Andrea Leadsom, Member of the British Parliament and former Leader of the House of Commons, was among those who applauded the return of the United States, especially with the fact that China has pledged to reach zero net emissions by 2060. Success, however, is certainly not guaranteed, Leadsom said in a statement. And it is vital that these two countries work with other nations, including the UK, to achieve their goals and encourage others to be equally ambitious.

Biden has started the process of setting a new national emissions reduction target that is more ambitious than Obamas’ goal of cutting carbon emissions to about a quarter below 2005 levels by 2025. But analysts say the United States may even miss that target. as Trump eased regulations that would have curbed carbon pollution.

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and architect of the Paris Agreement, said all countries must step up their emission reduction targets ahead of the summit, but the United States in particular must make a new bold promise. Science tells us that means a goal of at least 50% [greenhouse gas] cuts to 2005 levels by 2030, ideally more, she said.

The World Resources Institute, a sustainability think tank, is pressuring the Biden administration to set this 2030 target as well. Obviously, we’ve lost four years of federal leadership under the Trump administration, which could make it more difficult to reach that 2025 target, said Dan Lashof, US director of WRI.

But he added, what we need now is to raise the ambition and chart the course for the next decade. “

Following Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement, many cities, businesses, universities, nonprofits, and some states have launched their own efforts to reduce their carbon footprints and keep the country on track. , forming a coalition called We Are Still In.

Over the past four years, Americans across the country have continued to push forward and cut emissions, billionaire and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg said on a call Thursday with reporters. The reason is simple: they understand that the fight against climate change strengthens our economy and improves people’s health.

California, for example, has announced plans to phase out sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, while New York has laws in place to produce 100 percent zero-emission electricity by 2040.

Bloomberg, who noted that coal-fired power plants had closed at an even faster rate under Trump than under Obama, was one of the main backers behind this push on behalf of public officials and the private sector in recent years.

He has effectively held the line until that moment, said Jeff Nesbit, executive director of Climate Nexus, a company that highlights the effects of climate and clean energy initiatives across the country.

Yet there is little that local governments can do on their own. To match the new Paris targets Biden is setting for himself, his administration has ordered agencies to begin unraveling Trump’s environmental policies and is in the process of developing major infrastructure legislation that will aim to boost clean energy and electric cars.

We lost four years when Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement, ”said Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, founder of the Association of Women and Indigenous Peoples of Chad, in a call this week.

During these four years, the consequences for developing countries have been terrible, “she said. In Chad, my country, we have been faced with drought, floods, [destruction] of our cultures, heat waves. This has resulted in food insecurity, conflict between communities and growing conflicts between regions simply to access natural resources.

Like others around the world, she hailed the United States’ return to the global fight against climate change. But she said cutting your own emissions wasn’t enough. Rather, the United States must help the poorest and most vulnerable countries to do the same, said Ibrahim, who urged the Biden administration to support the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations program that helps countries developing to carry out adaptation and mitigation projects.

We need the United States to stand by our side and help those who are fighting these battles today, ”she said.

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