President Joe Biden signs Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington upon his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday to reintroduce the US to the Paris Agreement. This is his first major global warming move as he has the largest team of climate change experts ever brought to the White House.
The Biden administration also plans to revoke approval for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States and to sign additional contracts in the coming days to reverse several measures taken by former President Donald Trump to weaken the environment.
Biden pledges to act swiftly on climate change, and his inclusion of scientists across the government marks the beginning of a major political reversal after four years of the Trump administration weakening climate rules in favor of fossil fuel producers.
Almost every country in the world is part of the Paris Agreement, the non-binding agreement between nations to reduce their CO2 emissions. Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2017.
Mitchell Bernard, president of the Defense Council for Natural Resources, said Biden's order to rejoin the deal makes the US part of the global solution to climate change rather than part of the problem.
"This is a quick and determined action," Bernard said in a statement. "It creates the conditions for comprehensive measures to deal with the climate crisis, as long as there is still time to act."
With a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, Biden could potentially achieve large parts of his ambitious climate change agenda, including a $ 2 trillion economic plan to drive a clean energy transition, cut electricity sector carbon emissions by 2035, and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
During his first few months in office, Biden is expected to sign a wave of executive orders to combat climate change, including preserving 30% of American land and waters by 2030, protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling, and restoring and enhancing the role of science in government decisions.
Some legal actions related to the climate will take longer, including the government's plan to undo a number of Trump environmental setbacks regarding clean air and water rules and emissions to warm the planet. The Trump administration reversed more than 100 environmental regulations in four years, according to research by Columbia Law School.
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"From Paris to Keystone to protecting gray wolves, these great first steps by President Biden show that he is serious about stopping the climate and extinction crises," said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biodiversity, in a statement. "These strong steps must be the beginning of a furious race to avert disaster."
The next major United States climate summit will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. The countries in the agreement will set updated emissions targets for the next decade.
The aim of the agreement is to keep the global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit compared to pre-industrial values. The earth will warm by 1.5 ° C in the next two decades.
Robert Schuwerk, executive director for North America at Carbon Tracker, said the resumption of the deal signals to global markets that the US will give priority to tackling climate change, but added that this is only part of what the government is doing must to reduce their emissions.
The USA is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world after China. It is expected that an updated climate target and a concrete plan for reducing emissions from the electricity and energy sectors will be available.
"Re-entry is just a table," said John Morton, President Barack Obama's director of energy and climate on the National Security Council. "The hard work to get the country on track to net zero emissions by the middle of the century begins now."