US Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement: Now the Hard Part Begins

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Four years after walking away from the Paris climate agreement, the US joined nations around the world by recommitting to the accord, but America has much catching up to do and then the daunting part begins.

US rejoins Paris climate accord

Four years ago, under the lead of the administration of then-President Donald Trump, the United States walked away from the Paris climate agreement. The rest of the world was left in a state of confusion, trying to understand the irony, being that it was America that had gone through the painstaking process of pressuring other countries to join the accord, only to abruptly abandon the agreement.

Within hours of being sworn in, newly-elected president Joe Biden signed an executive order that returned the United States to the Paris climate accord. However, after the paperwork was delivered to the United Nations, it required a 30-day process to rejoin, NBC reported.

Beginning on Friday, February 19, the United States officially returns to the table once again as a party to the agreement it originally championed.

Kicking off the effort, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, will be front and center, according to officials. On Friday, Carrie will appear with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres as he joins Biden’s domestic climate czar, Gina McCarthy, as well as his U.N. climate envoy, Mike Bloomberg, for an event launching the “America Is All In” coalition, which includes city, state and business leaders who continued to take action on climate during the years of the Trump administration.

Hard road ahead: US needs to catch up on climate goals

After four years away from the Paris climate accord, the United States has a lot of catching up to do in order to meet its commitment of emissions-cutting.

Being that the Trump administration lagged behind in taking steps to reduce emissions, the Biden administration will be challenged with not only catching up on for lost years, but trying to accelerate to meet the ambitious targets scientists say are crucial in averting the worst effects of global warming.

Todd Stern was the lead U.S. negotiator for the Obama administration on the 2015 climate agreement.

“We have to show we are not just talking the talk but walking the walk,” Stern says. “Our capacity to be impactful will start at home. Everybody understands the United States has got to get a really revved-up effort.”

Coronavirus pandemic offered temporary reprieve

Last year, the US did lower its emissions of carbon, but not because of any new standards. The lower amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases was due solely to the coronavirus pandemic, which had people isolating and working from home. This in turn, decreased emissions. But as the US begins to come out of its cocoon, and as the American economy rebounds, its greenhouse gases are expected to rise once more.

The China challenge

No matter what happens in the US, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is China. The challenge before America and the rest of its partners on the world stage will be to persuade China to move at a faster pace in reducing its carbon footprint.