Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential elections should provide a much-needed boost to the fight against climate change, as he has promised to bring the US back into the Paris Agreement immediately upon taking office.
Only hours after the US officially left the accord on 5 November 2020, Biden wrote on Twitter: “Today, the Trump Administration officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it.”
In June 2017, the Trump administration announced its intention to withdraw from the agreement after it claimed that the economic cost of global the accord was too high and unfair to the United States. So far, 189 nations have ratified the agreement and the USA is the only country to have formally decided to exit the agreement.
The Paris Agreement is a multi-national pact developed by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to combat climate change. The agreement’s main goal is to limit the global temperature increase in this century to below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to work toward limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees.
The election of Joe Biden as president will mean that the USA would immediately rejoin the agreement and he said repeatedly during the presidential campaign that he will push lawmakers to spend big on green infrastructure to try to reverse the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus from the pandemic. However, Biden’s good intentions may yet be hampered by the US Senate, which may yet remain under Republican control and that could also act as a brake on his plans for a green recovery plan.
As well as pushing ahead with plans for green infrastructure, Biden could also move to reduce climate pollution through more stringent regulations. However, that is likely to prove a challenging strategy as it seems inevitable that any new rules would be challenged by industry and business lobby groups and the now strongly conservative-leaning supreme court could have the last say on whether they are legal.
So, a Biden win should be good news for the environment but there are many challenges ahead.