Washington: US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to rejoin the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, a commitment that he made during his election campaign.
The Trump administration on November last formally withdrew from the Paris accord, a decision originally announced three years ago, arguing that the agreement was disadvantageous for the US, while it gives benefits to countries like China, Russia and India. Former President Donald Trump had said the deal could be economically detrimental and cost 2.5 million Americans their jobs by 2025.
The Paris accord committed the US and 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures below 2C above pre-industrial levels and attempting to limit them even more, to a 1.5C rise.
Rejoining the climate deal was one of the few executive orders that Biden signed in front of a pool of reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday soon after his arrival at the White House as the 46th President of the United States.
"...that's one I'm going to do while you're all here -- is a commitment I made that we're going to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, as of today,” he said.
Newly-appointed Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Change, John Kerry, said Biden "rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, restoring America’s credibility and commitment — setting a floor, not a ceiling, for our climate leadership. Working together, the world must and will raise ambition. It’s time to get to work -- the road to Glasgow begins here."
The new instrument of acceptance of the Paris agreement by US President Biden on January 20 was deposited with the UN Secretary-General the same day. The Paris agreement will enter into force for the US on February 19, according to an official statement.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that addressing the climate crisis was one of the four crises that Biden has identified will impact his administration, the American people as well as the global community. Rejoining the Paris accord is a vital step towards addressing the crisis.
"It will take approximately 30 days for that to take place," she said.
Psaki said that the US continues to be one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. “And we need to put in place policies and take steps here to address that as well,” she said.
Meanwhile, top Democratic lawmakers welcomed the decision to rejoin the Paris accord.
"This is an important moment for the climate movement, our country, and the planet. By re-entering the US into the Paris climate agreement, President Biden has reaffirmed our nation’s commitment to leading the fight against the existential crisis of our time and to seizing the opportunity of a clean energy economy and safer future for all," Senator Ed Marky said.
The Paris agreement recognises that global warming requires a global solution, including a collective commitment to greenhouse gas emissions reductions and clean energy solutions, he said.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen said rejoining the Paris climate deal is a critical step to put the US back on track to regain the country's role on the international stage and to restore its reputation among US allies as a nation that keeps its word and is committed to global security and stability.
However, top Republican senators opposed the move to rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change.
“By signing this order, President Biden indicates that he's more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh,” Senator Ted Cruz said.
“Rejoining the Paris agreement isn't about ‘restoring America's leadership abroad' or ‘solving the climate crisis,' but instead it is about Democrats' plans to destroy jobs they don't like - including thousands of manufacturing jobs - and cede control of our energy future to other countries,” he said.
At least half a dozen Republican senators announced their plan to introduce a resolution calling on President Biden to submit the Paris Climate Agreement to the US Senate for advice and consent as required by the Constitution before re-joining the treaty.
“The Paris agreement is a bad deal for America and a bad deal for Kansas. The deal will kill jobs and raise the price of energy, hurting Americans when many are struggling to stay on their feet. It will punish American energy providers with expensive regulations, dole out US taxpayer money to foreign countries, and let China off the hook for their role as the world’s largest polluter,” Senator Roger Marshall said.