By Steven Nelson
The US officially rejoined the Paris Climate Accord on Friday — almost a month after President Biden declared that the US again accepted the agreement’s terms.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord. He said it was ineffective because it allows countries to voluntarily restrain their own pollution and seeks to hold the US and other industrialized countries to a higher standard.
Although Trump said in 2017 the US was pulling out, the move was largely symbolic and it didn’t actually happen until last year following a one-year notification period to the United Nations.
UN officials cheered the return of the US — even though Biden’s climate team, led by John Kerry, is angling to help craft a more ambitious pact at a meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it “is itself very important,” and former UN global warming chief Christiana Figueres told the Associated Press that’s because “it’s the political message that’s being sent.”
Biden issued a statement on his first day in office last month saying: “I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on December 12, 2015, do hereby accept the said Agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.”
Rejoining has little immediate effect on the US, but complements other first-month Biden initiatives to hamper industries that extract fossil fuels. He also canceled construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and banned future permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands.
No. 1 carbon emitter China also is a member of the 2016 accord — but Trump scoffed at the idea that the authoritarian state would voluntarily curb its own pollution. The US left the agreement amid negotiation on how countries should implement a new transparency regime.
“What we won’t do is punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters,” Trump said in 2019 at a shale gas industry conference in Pennsylvania.