America Rejoins Paris Agreement On Biden’s First Day In Office

In 2015, the U.S. signed the Paris Agreement, a historic pledge signed by almost 200 nations to slash carbon emissions and implement other tangible steps to curb climate change. Five years later, the U.S. made history again, but this time for the wrong reasons. This time, America became the first country to officially exit the Paris Agreement, undercutting the landmark accord at a critical time for our planet.

Fortunately, President Biden vowed to rejoin the Paris Agreement on his first day in office. On January 20, 2021, America’s 46th president made good on this pledge by re-committing our country to the historic climate accord — just hours after taking office.

Photo: Flickr/Ian Barbour

It will take 30 days for the U.S. to officially reenter the global accord, but American allies were nevertheless thrilled to see the White House’s renewed commitment to curbing climate change. “Best wishes on this most significant day for the American people!” France’s President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. “We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet. Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!”

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Even so, rejoining the Paris Agreement is just the first step, according to experts, who say the U.S. will have to work hard to meet its goals after 4 years of environmental roll-backs and Trump-era deregulation. An even larger issue may be restoring America’s climate credibility on a world stage, because the Paris Agreement wasn’t even the first climate accord scuttled by the U.S., which is also the world’s largest carbon polluter in history.

Photo: Flickr/AK Rockefeller

“If Biden wins, he’s going to have to go through a process to rejoin Paris,” Andrew Light, a former climate official in the U.S. State Department, told CNN during the 2020 campaign, recalling how U.S. allies first began doubting America’s environmental pledges when the country pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, a climate accord signed by 191 nations in 1997. “Part of it will be straightforward, and part of it won’t because the US reputation has already been damaged on this issue,” said Light.

More than 4 million acres of California have been razed by wildfires in 2020.
Source: YouTube/CGTN America
More than 4 million acres of California have been razed by wildfires in 2020.

Regardless, conservationists, co-signers, and everyone concerned by our rapidly warming planet also cheered America’s commitment to rejoining this landmark accord, which — on the heels of a year marked by hurricanes, wildfires, and unprecedented climate-driven disasters — is more urgent and necessary than ever. There’s clearly much work to be done, but rejoining the Paris Agreement is an essential step towards becoming part of the solution, not the problem.

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