U.S. To Rejoin Paris Agreement & Host World Climate Summit Next Year

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The U.S. will be rejoining the Paris agreement and hold a climate summit early next year, within 100 days of president-elect Joe Biden taking office, a commitment largely seen as a much-needed boost to reinvigorate global efforts to combat the climate crisis. Biden’s announcement comes shortly after the virtual Climate Ambition Summit took place over the weekend in the absence of the world’s biggest economy, while other major states renewed their sustainability pledges. 

Outlining his action plan for the first 100 days of his presidency, Joe Biden said in a statement that the U.S. will be rejoining the Paris accord on the first day and will go on to host a climate summit with the world’s major economies in the months following

We’ll listen to and engage closely with the activists, including young people, who have continued to sound the alarm and demand change from those in power.

Joe Biden, President-elect of the U.S.

“I’ll immediately start working with my counterparts around the world to do all that we possibly can, including by convening the leaders of major economies for a climate summit within my first 100 days in office,” said the president-elect in a statement. 

“We’ll elevate the incredible work cities, states and businesses have been doing to help reduce emissions and build a cleaner future. We’ll listen to and engage closely with the activists, including young people, who have continued to sound the alarm and demand change from those in power.”

Biden also reinforced the pledge he made during the run-up to the election to put the U.S. back on a trajectory to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, describing the commitment as not only necessary to combat climate change but a move that would ultimately benefit the country’s economy and workforce. 

“We’ll do all of this knowing that we have before us an enormous economic opportunity to create jobs and prosperity at home and export clean American-made products around the world,” said Biden in the statement. 

It is a very important signal. We look forward to a very active U.S. leadership in climate action from now on as US leadership is absolutely essential.

António Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General

With the U.S. back on board to work towards carbon neutrality, countries that account for over two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions will now be subject to net-zero targets. The U.S. joins a slew of nations who have recently made the pledge, including the E.U., U.K., Japan and South Korea, while China’s goal is set for 2060

Commenting on the new sustainability path that the U.S. will take after Trump leaves the White House, U.N. secretary-general António Guterres said: “It is a very important signal. We look forward to a very active U.S. leadership in climate action from now on as US leadership is absolutely essential.”

Last week, Guterres urged world leaders to put climate action at the centre of coronavirus rebuilding plans, declaring 2021 the year to battle the ecological crisis the planet is facing. In his impassioned speech, the U.N. chief told governments that “making peace with nature is the defining task of the century”. 

Biden’s latest climate commitments comes shortly after the Climate Ambition Summit co-organised by the U.N., Britain and France took place online to mark the fifth year of the Paris Agreement. The U.S. did not appear in the conference after Trump formally withdrew the country from the accord on November 4, the day following the general election.

While the summit ultimately failed to lead to any major outcomes, 75 world leaders did renew their support and revealed further measures to slash greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goal of limiting global heating to under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Some of the pledges included Britain’s commitment to end fossil fuel funding overseas, while the E.U. laid out its plan to lower emissions by 55% before the end of the decade. 


Lead image courtesy of Drew Angerer / Getty Images.


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