WASHINGTON – President Joseph R. Biden Jr. re-committed the United States on Wednesday to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the international treaty to prevent catastrophic global warming, and instructed federal agencies to review and reintroduce more than 100 weakened or rolled environmental laws back dated former President Donald J. Trump.
The steps represent a first step in healing one of the deepest divisions between the United States and the rest of the world after Mr Trump defiantly rejected the Paris Pact and appeared to be enjoying his administration’s urge to weaken or reverse key domestic climate policies close.
Mr Biden has made tackling the climate crisis one of his top priorities. In addition to curbing global warming, he has vowed that ending the coronavirus pandemic, restoring the economy, and tackling racial injustice will be central causes of his administration.
“We are going to fight climate change in a way that we have never done before,” said Biden in the Oval Office on Wednesday evening, just before he signed the Executive Orders. Nonetheless, he warned: “These are only executive actions. They are important, but we will need laws for many of the things we are going to do. “
Foreign leaders hailed Mr Biden’s first steps as a strong signal that the United States, the greatest contributor to global warming in history, is stepping up its efforts to reduce pollution and restore the international troubled by Mr Trump Want to resume order. “Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!” Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, said in a Twitter message.
Under the Paris Agreement, nearly 200 nations have pledged to cut emissions to warm the planet in order to avert the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. A letter to the United Nations signed by Mr Biden on Wednesday officially opens the 30-day process to re-include the United States in the agreement.
However, analysts warned that Mr Biden’s actions on the first day must be quickly followed by a series of aggressive domestic climate policies to drastically cut the country’s emissions from pollution of the planet from exhaust pipes, chimneys, and oil and gas wells.
Also on Wednesday, Mr Biden revoked the building permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would have transported high-carbon oil from Canada’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast. TC Energy, a Canadian company, announced earlier in the day that work on the line would be suspended.
But the lengthy legal process of reversing most of Mr. Trump’s environmental setbacks and replacing them with new regulations could take many years and will likely be littered with political landmines as Republicans or corporate groups fight them.
Even before Mr Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, some Republicans opposed his new political direction.
“President-elect Biden’s policies from day one have harmed American workers and our economy,” West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito said in a statement.
In another early reference to the headwinds Mr Biden might face in Congress, Senator Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, said he intended to pass a resolution asking the president to seek council and Senate approval for Obtain the Paris Agreement and a separate bill that would approve the Keystone pipeline in Congress over Mr. Biden’s objections.
The country’s largest business lobby, the United States Chamber of Commerce, which opposed much of former President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda, signaled its support for the resumption of the Paris Agreement, but also its opposition to the killing of the Keystone Project.
“It is critical that the United States restore leadership in international efforts to address the climate challenge,” said Marty Durbin, president of the Chamber’s Global Energy Institute. But he said of the Keystone Project, “It will harm consumers and put thousands of Americans in the construction industry unemployed.”
Mr Biden has set an ambitious goal for the United States to eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 and from the entire economy by 2050. However, it is by no means certain that the United States could achieve these goals without new legislation from Congress – a difficult prospect given the razor-thin majority of Democrats with one vote in the Senate.
Scientists said this means Mr Biden will need to put in place stricter regulations than those put in place by Mr Obama and put back by Mr Trump.
“There’s a very big job to be done,” said Michael Oppenheimer, Professor of Earth Sciences and International Affairs at Princeton University. He found that United Nations climate science reports called for zero global net emissions by 2050.
Mr Biden instructed federal authorities on Wednesday to review all decisions made by the Trump administration over the past four years “that were harmful to public health, polluting the environment, not supported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest” .
This includes reintroducing regulations repealed by Mr Trump to limit greenhouse gas emissions from car tailpipes and methane leaks from oil and gas wells, as well as replacing energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings.
Dr. Oppenheimer noted that reversing and replacing these measures will take time. “We just lost four years,” he said. And the new rules “must be stronger than the previous rules or else the time lost by the Trump administration will not be regained,” said Dr. Oppenheimer.
The urgency is both political and existential. Numerous scientific reports have shown that the first irreversible effects of climate change are already being felt worldwide, including rising sea levels, record fires and more devastating storms. This month, scientists announced that 2020 will be the hottest year in history, making 2016.
In November, representatives of the nations involved in the Paris Agreement will meet at a United Nations summit in Glasgow to announce tough new targets for reducing their domestic emissions. The goals are said to be more ambitious than those first set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Mr Obama had pledged that the United States would cut its emissions to warm the planet in the entire economy by about 28 percent from 2005 to 2025.
The United States is only about halfway to achieving Obama’s goal, but the Biden administration will be under strong and almost immediate pressure to raise the goal.
If so, the government may not be top of the world by June, but rather catch up. The UK and the European Union have set new targets to reduce carbon emissions, and China has announced that it will achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
Climate policy experts said they were confident that a combination of new regulations, increased spending on renewable energy and support for government efforts to move away from coal-fired power could meet and exceed the country’s original Paris target.
Most have suggested that the Biden government could set a new target between 40 and 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Other major economies will be watching the Biden administration closely to see what concrete policy moves the new president is planning ahead of the Glasgow meeting.
“China has set its specific goal, but not the specific steps to take to achieve it,” said Byford Tsang, an analyst who focuses on China’s climate policy at E3G, a London-based research organization. “So if Biden sets a goal and takes concrete steps, it could put pressure on China.”
The Obama administration, which had achieved its goal in relative secrecy, falsely assured foreign diplomats in 2015 that a succeeding administration could not dismantle the pollution-reducing regulatory policies on which that goal depended.
Now the negotiators have said they had a “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, be ashamed of me ”and will insist that the Biden government prove it can do what it claims to be.
“They say trust comes on foot and goes on horseback,” said Jules Kortenhorst, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a research organization focused on transforming the global energy industry. “The world has missed the US for years in this incredibly important environment in the past. Rebuilding trust will come on foot for Biden, as will trust in the U.S. under Trump that the horse left behind. “