United States And Paris Climate Agreement

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Joe Biden assumed office as President of the United States on January 20, 2021, and among the first orders he signed was one to restore America’s participation in the United Nations Paris Agreement on climate change. 

  • His decision will take effect on 19th February 2020, which would be 107 days after its withdrawal under the Donald Trump administration became formal on November 4, 2020. 
  • Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. played an active role in climate negotiations, although the Copenhagen UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in 2009 failed to produce a consensus, and member-countries only acknowledged the science, without committing themselves to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions-reduction targets. By 2015, the negotiations progressed with the Obama administration engaging in diplomacy, resulting in the Paris Agreement premised on voluntary targets for national emissions cuts. 
  • In the past, the U.S., under George W. Bush, had pulled out of the previous pact, the Kyoto Protocol, in 2001.

What changes did the Trump administration make?

  • The withdrawal from the Paris Agreement meant that the U.S. was no longer bound by its national pledge made under the pact: to achieve an economy-wide reduction of its GHG emissions by 26%-28% below the 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce emissions. 
  • America also stopped its contribution to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, to which it had pledged $3 billion, after transferring an estimated $1 billion.
  • The Trump regime focused on, among other things, relaxing controls on emissions from fossil fuel-based industries, diluting standards on air quality and vehicular emissions, hydrofluorocarbon leaking and venting from air-conditioning systems, loosening the way the government calculated the social cost of carbon, restraining individual States such as California from setting higher standards, revoking protection for natural habitats, including the Arctic sought by the oil and gas industry, and for individual wildlife species. 
  • The Clean Power Plan, a major provision from the Obama-era to cut power sector emissions by 32% over 2005 levels by 2030, was initially replaced with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, with a reduction effect of only 0.7%.

What areas will Mr. Biden focus on to cut emissions?

  • He has promised an “enforcement mechanism to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050”, including a target no later than the end of his term in 2025, aided by a planned federal investment that will total $1.7 trillion over ten years, besides private investments.
  • The plan revolves around 10 million well-paying clean energy jobs with a focus on solar and wind power, active support for carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and a renaissance in green transport that includes the second great railroad revolution
  • 2020 UN climate conference in Glasgow will see the new administration engaging UNFCCC member-nations to raise global ambition.

Source : The Hindu

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