The United States is officially rejoining the Paris Agreement. Thanks to a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision yesterday vacating the Trump Administration's rules for coal-fired power plants, the U.S. EPA has a clean slate to adopt new greenhouse gas emissions limits. Good timing. Now, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will have a clearer path to meet his Paris Agreement climate change goals.
This afternoon, a few hours after Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the oath of office as the 46th President of the United States, he signed an Executive Order by which the United States once again accepted the Paris Agreement on climate change. It takes 30 days for treaty acceptance to take effect, after which the United States will submit an updated official target for new reductions in carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than a symbolic commitment to reestablish climate change as a priority for U.S. policy. Thanks to a new court decision yesterday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have a clean slate to implement new rules intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants in the United States. These two events — one foreign and one domestic — are inextricably linked.
With the stroke of a pen on the new Executive Order, President Biden caused the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement without Congressional action. In itself, neither joining (or rejoining) the Paris Agreement nor the temporary U.S. withdrawal from it cost or created any jobs or established binding environmental rules. Only domestic programs and policies — coupled with markets and state and local governments — can directly bolster the labor force or keep the lights on and the skies blue. But rejoining the Paris Agreement on day one sets the new Biden Administration's tone and satisfies a key campaign promise for the incoming President. The United States will again have a seat at the table in future rounds of international discussions on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change and how to assist poorer countries in paying for the necessary investments while maintaining economic growth.
Fundamentally, U.S. influence in that global effort depends not just on foreign policy or global treaties but on aligning domestic energy policy with shared international goals to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. As it happens, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday gave the new administration the opportunity to do just that.
We'll Always Have Paris.
Adopted by 196 parties at COP 21 in Paris on December 12, 2015, the Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. Nearly five years ago, in April 2016, the United States signed the Paris Agreement, which was formally accepted by U.S. President Barack Obama by Executive Order in September 2016.
Originally Published by Forbes
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