The United States, under the Obama administration, joined the Paris Agreement in 2015 and committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. However, in June 2017, the Trump administration announced its intention to withdraw from the agreement (Shear). In April 2021, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would rejoin the Paris Agreement, and on his first day in office, he signed an executive order to that effect. As part of rejoining the agreement, the United States has committed to achieving a 50-52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 (Kidd). To meet these targets, the Biden administration has outlined several policy proposals, including investments in renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient buildings, as well as the implementation of stricter emissions standards for the transportation and energy sectors.
Foremost, it is significant to comprehend what the Paris Agreement is and its intention. The Paris Agreement is an addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was initially agreed by 195 countries in 2015. The United States partook in the Agreement, during the Obama legislation. The Agreement’s major purpose and goal is to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, by implementing number of environment friendly policies, predominant among which is reduction of greenhouse gas emission (Kidd). Subsequently, all nations under the Agreement, including the US, is agreed to take the following steps in efforts to combat global climate change. 1. Determination and report on national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Each nation has a target reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, by which is known as Nationally Determined Contributions. The NDC is reset and registered every five years by the UNFCCC. 2. Setting the target temperature between 1.5 and 2°C. Each nation needs to report their national average temperature increase, which they are to commit to limit between 1.5 and 2°C. 3. Financially and technically support the developing nations. Global temperature increase limitation is a task that can only be achieved collectively on a global scale. Developing countries requiring additional financial and technical support will be assisted by those nations with such capabilities (Roberts).
Withdrawal from the Agreement under Trump’s administration had not only caused global criticism from the United Nations community, but also national disturbance, especially from the Democratic Party. Since the reenactment of partaking of the Agreement under Biden’s administration, the US has committed to several policy measures under the Agreement. The American Jobs Plan was announced in March 2021, which intends to create jobs to build and reconstruct the national infrastructure. It is targeted to meet many goals, crucial among which is environmental standards. According to Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, $174 billion will be allotted within 10-year span for the investment in Electric Vehicles (EV), including consumer rebates to EV purchases, grants and incentives to build 500,000 new charging stations and more. Also, $85 billion in modernization of public transportation, $46 billion in supporting clean energy manufacturing with federal procurement, $35 billion in providing additional funding for climate change research and development, $45 billion in replacement of all lead pipes and service lines of water supply system will be in place. Additionally, the Biden administration has proposed a Clean Energy Standard (CES). According to the Resources for the Future, CES requires electricity suppliers to gradually increase the percentage of clean energy they generate over time.
These changes won’t be reflected in global temperature within a few years of implementation, but it may take several decades for us to physically witness the impact of the Paris Agreement. Despite the timeliness of the process, it is significant that we, as global citizens, acknowledge and execute the necessary means of energy-saving, environment-friendly actions, and mindset to gradually move towards the greener earth. This may be the great first step to the desired goal, the healthier planet.
Clean Energy Standards. (n.d.). Resources for the Future. https://www.rff.org/publications/issue-briefs/clean-energy-standards/#:~:text=A%20clean%20energy%20standard%20(CES,carbon%20in%20the%20electricity%20sector.
Kidd, David. (2022, August 10). US Regulatory Barriers to an Ambitious Paris Agreement Commitment – Environmental & Energy Law Program – Harvard Law School. Harvard Law School. https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/2021/04/us-paris-commitment/#:~:text=Updated%20April%2022%2C%202021,to%20the%20Paris%20Climate%20Agreement.
Roberts, J., Weikmans, et al. (2021). Rebooting a failed promise of climate finance. Nature Climate Change, 11(3), 180–182. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-00990-2
Shear, Michael D. (June 1, 2017). “Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate
Agreement“. The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 10, 2017.
Retrieved April 21, 2023.
What’s in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan? | Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. (2021, April 2). Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. https://www.crfb.org/blogs/whats-president-bidens-american-jobs-plan