A new US president: What’s next for the Paris Agreement?
Since 4 November 2020, the USA is no longer part of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. But just under two and a half months later the re-entry is already expected to take place — the reason is called Joe Biden and is the newly elected 46th President of the USA. Is this already the turning point in the fight against climate change?
After only a few months in office, the time had come: on 1 June, 2017, Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement with the USA — and that as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The US President’s reasoning: the international agreement would unilaterally harm the US and climate change would be much less dramatic than often portrayed. US Secretary of State Pompeo also justified the move, citing alleged disadvantages of the climate agreement for the US economy. Admittedly, this withdrawal from the agreement did not mean that the USA completely stopped its climate protection activities. Today, 24 states are active in the US Climate Alliance and are still committed to implementing the goals of the Paris Accord. But since the US withdrew from the agreement on 4 November, there is no longer a federal commitment to the climate protection agreement.
The good news for the Paris Climate Change Agreement, however, is that Joe Biden won the US election on 3 November , who promised during the election campaign to immediately re-enter the Paris Climate Change Agreement. And re-entry is straightforward: The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa emphasised that the body would be agreed to support the US in re-entering the agreement. But what is the US re-commitment to?
The key points of the Paris Climate Change Agreement
On 12 December 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Change Convention at the 21st UN World Climate Conference in Paris. The agreement officially entered into force on 4 November 2016. The cornerstones of the Paris Climate Convention include the agreement of the states on the long-term goal of stopping the increase in global warming at 1.5 degrees by 2100. Measures to reduce the risks and consequences of climate change should be implemented in line with the latest scientific knowledge. In this context, the countries have submitted national action plans for reducing their emissions. The states have also committed themselves to meeting every five years to reflect the joint progress made in the implementation of long-term goals: for example, through adaptation and improvement proposals for their nationally determined contributions.
Furthermore, the countries’ contribution to the Paris Climate Convention is also intended to increase their ability to adapt to climate change. Developing countries are assured international support. The adaptation process should also compensate for damage and losses related to the adverse effects of climate change. In addition, the ability to cooperate in various areas is to be improved, for example by establishing early warning systems and investing in emergency preparedness. The EU and other industrialised countries are supporting developing countries with a total of 100 billion US dollars per year until at least 2025. However, a withdrawal by the USA has not only direct financial consequences, but also sends a negative signal to companies, private individuals and others that the issue of climate change would be expensive and would not bring any benefits. It is therefore all the more important for the climate that the USA under Joe Biden will soon re-enter the race. And the plans of the future US president go even further.
More than just a re-entry: The climate plan by Joe Biden
Joe Biden’s climate plan presented during the election campaign includes an investment package of almost two trillion US dollars. This is intended to enable the energy sector to phase out fossil fuels over the next 15 years, making the USA climate-neutral by 2050. The entire US electricity sector is expected to have net zero emissions already by 2035. Nearly 3.3 million people were employed in clean energy production in the US in 2019, according to the US industry association E2 – three times as many workers as in the US oil and gas industry. Biden also wants to link a recovery plan to tackle the current COVID-19 pandemic with investment in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure projects. In addition to the EU’s European Green Deal and China’s announcement to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions to net zero by 2060, Biden’s climate change plans are an important contribution to the fight against climate change.
But: government action alone is no longer enough
But government action alone will most likely not be sufficient to achieve the Paris climate targets. Companies and their value chain also have a responsibility to make their contribution to climate protection. Climate change is already having a direct impact on companies: Resources are becoming scarcer and fossil energy sources increasingly expensive. In addition, society is becoming more sensitised: private and institutional investors are increasingly asking for climate-friendly products and services. And the workforce expects its employer to live up to its social and ecological responsibility. We can help you meet the environmental requirements of your stakeholders. Feel free to contact us!
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