The Biden administration also rolled out a raft of executive orders which will in all reverse “more than 100” climate-related policies enacted by Donald Trump.
Newly elected President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to have the US rejoin the Paris climate agreement – the international pact to curb the greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet.
The move comes within hours of Biden being sworn in as President and is one of several executive orders to tackle the climate crisis.
Biden, in his inauguration speech, said America needed to respond to a “climate in crisis”, which he has previously referred to as being the “greatest threat” to the country,
The executive branch of Biden’s administration also updated the White House webpage with new references to the climate change crisis recognizing the reality of human-induced climate change.
‘Big first step’
“It’s just a huge day to get rid of this myopic, benighted administration and welcome in a new president who manifestly is committed to strong, meaningful action,” Todd Stern, who was the lead US negotiator in Paris said.
“Rejoining Paris is just the first step, but it’s a big first step.”
Biden also cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline permit – an intensely debated project that would bring huge quantities of oil from Canada to the US to be refined – and stalled oil and gas drilling at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, two huge national monuments in Utah, and the Arctic national wildlife refuge wilderness.
The administration also aims to accelerate the full transition of the U.S. to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro by 2050.
‘We are back, let’s move hard’
While it will take around 30 days for the US to officially be part of the agreement again, meeting its targets is going to be easier said than done.
The US is the second-largest producer of carbon emissions, behind China, and has contributed more to global climate change over time than any other country.
In the past four years, apart from pulling out of the Paris agreement, Trump repeatedly rejected the existential crisis of climate change. He rolled back environmental regulations designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, overturned rules to limit pollution from cars, trucks, and power plants, and frequently spread unfounded claims about warming global temperatures and their complex social and ecological consequences.
However, Gina McCarthy, Biden’s top climate adviser, said Biden will in all reverse “more than 100” climate-related policies implemented by the twice-impeached Republican.
“We can’t be afraid or diffident about exercising leadership again but we need a sense of humility in light of what has occurred over the past four years,” Stern added.
“The message is ‘we are back, let’s move hard.’ It will be deliberate, aggressive and strategic.”
‘Many tools to act’
Scientists and climate experts have welcomed the urgency voiced by Biden and the series of actions he has lined up to tackle the ever-worsening impacts of the looming climate crisis.
“Even if we can’t get new climate legislation, our executive branch already has many tools to act,” Leah Stokes, an expert in environmental policy at the University of California, said.
“The best time to cut emissions was decades ago; the second-best time is today.”
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