US officially rejoins Paris climate accord, all eyes on its next move ahead of COP26

NEW DELHI: The United States on Friday re-joined the Paris Agreement – a global treaty which was adopted by 195 countries in December, 2015 as an international response to the climate crisis.
Though technically the US remained outside the Agreement only for over three months after its formal exit from the deal in November last year, the country under Donald Trump administration kept itself away from the international accord in terms of federal climate action for four years even as sub-national players were doing their bit for a cleaner future.
“Today’s the day. We’re officially back in the Paris Agreement – again part of the global climate effort. No country can fight this fight on its own. We look forward to a productive year and a successful COP26 (UN climate conference) in Glasgow (UK),” tweeted John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate.

Re-joining the Paris accord was among the key promises of President Joe Biden during his presidential election campaign last year. Leaders from different coalitions have now urged the Biden administration to commit to ambitious goals such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more by 2030 (from a 2005 baseline) to put the US on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.
The US is the biggest historical polluter and second biggest current emitter after China. India is figured at number four after the European Union nations (put together) at third position. The EU has already pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 whereas China announced its intention to do so by 2060. The UK, Japan and South Korea too have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
“It’s good to have the US back in the Paris Agreement, but sadly we have no time to celebrate. The climate crisis is deepening and this is the year we need all major polluters to step up and deliver stronger plans to deliver a safe, clean and prosperous future for everyone,” said Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate change ambassador and special representative for COP21.
Expecting higher climate action targets from the US, Tubiana, CEO of European Climate Foundation, said, “The US needs to come to COP26 with a strong commitment. The urgency of the crisis is clear, and this means a new US target of at least 50% GHG cuts on 2005 levels by 2030, ideally more.”
A recent ‘emission gap report’ of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has flagged how emissions of the richest 1% of the global population account for more than twice the combined share of the poorest 50%. It means wealthy countries such as the USA, EU nations, Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and others have bigger responsibility to cut their respective emissions to reach the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming this century to well below 2 degree C and pursuing 1.5 degree C.
Since these nations had been industrialized early and seen economic growth by using fossil fuels, their contribution to overall historical emission is much more than countries like India. Reports show that while India contributed to only 3% of global historical emission, the USA contributed as high as 25% followed by EU (22%) and China (13%).

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