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President Joe Biden participates in a virtual event in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 19, 2021, in Washington, DC.
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The United States Has Officially Rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement


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President Joe Biden has honored one of his highly anticipated campaign promises: The United States has officially rejoined the Paris climate agreement.

In 2019, former President Donald Trump’s administration announced that it would withdraw the United States from the climate agreement that was supported by nearly every country in the world, a decision that went into effect on Nov. 4, 2020. Biden heavily criticized this decision while campaigning for president and pledged to issue an executive order on his first day in office to reverse the United States’ withdrawal, according to the Guardian.

Biden signed several executive orders on his first day in office meant to address how the United States responds to climate change. After a 30-day notice period, the nation is once again participating in the international pact to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2015, nearly 200 international parties signed the Paris climate agreement, an international treaty on climate change. It calls for international cooperation to limit global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, requiring countries to set their own national determined contributions (NDCs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” Biden said in his inaugural address. “A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.”

World leaders have acknowledged the important symbolism of the United States rejoining the Paris climate agreement, but experts and officials have reaffirmed that the country must take meaningful action to combat climate change.

“Rejoining Paris is just the first step, but it’s a big first step,” said Todd Stern, the lead US negotiator in Paris for the agreement in 2015, according to the Guardian.

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United Nations Environment Programme Director Inger Andersen said the United States has to prove its leadership to the rest of the world, according to the AP, but that she has no doubt it will when the Biden administration announces its emissions cutting targets in April.

Earlier this year, Global Citizen called on the Biden administration to take several actions toward ending extreme poverty, including the prioritization of climate change initiatives. Rejoining the Paris climate agreement is an important part of taking action, but the United States must set ambitious targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit the global temperature increase, as well as commit to seeing them through.

During his campaign for president, Biden announced his climate plan with the goal of ramping up the United States’ effort to confront climate change, according to Vox. This plan includes investing $2 trillion in clean energy and infrastructure, putting the US on the path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and achieving a carbon-free power sector by 2035.

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So far, the Biden administration has honored its commitment to tackling climate change through the creation of a National Climate Task Force, according to the New York Times. When the Obama administration first joined the Paris climate agreement, it set the goal of cutting the nation’s emissions up to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Biden’s task force is supposedly working on an even more ambitious target, which will be announced ahead of the Leaders' Climate Summit on April 22 of this year.