Democratic US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about modernising infrastructure and his plans for tackling climate change during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, US, July 14, 2020

Paris Agreement: Biden pledges stronger climate action to make up for ‘lost time’

Image credit: Reuters/Leah Millis

US President-elect Joe Biden will take strong climate action beyond commitments made in the Paris Agreement to make up for “lost critical time”, his incoming administration has said.

The historic global Agreement was originally signed in 2015 and saw 189 countries make promises to reduce their carbon emissions in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

While the accord was signed for the US under the aegis of then-President Barack Obama, he was soon replaced by climate sceptic Donald Trump, who relaxed many environmental regulations and carbon reduction policies when he took office.

Trump finally pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement in November 2020, although Biden has since said that he plans the US to rejoin as soon as he takes office.

Speaking at CES 2021 - the world's largest electronics trade show, gone digital this year due to the coronavirus pandemic - Biden appointee Brian Deese confirmed that the President-elect would not only stick to this commitment but progress US climate commitments.

“The President-elect said that just rejoining Paris is not sufficient,” Deese said, speaking to Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

“It's not sufficient for where the science says we need to be and it's not sufficient because we've lost critical time over the last couple of years. We are putting ourselves on a trajectory to a low-carbon economy.

“You will see us not only re-join Paris, but engage multilaterally with major emitting allies across the world, to work together on how we can increase the ambition of our climate mitigation efforts, our emissions reductions efforts and how we can do that in a multilateral way.”

In particular, Deese singled out China for being a “big part” of that plan and said the country was the “most serious global competitor” to the US.

“I anticipate that we will be engaging directly with the Chinese on their climate commitments and where we can find areas where we can find ambition together,” he added.

Elsewhere, Deese spoke of the huge task the Biden Administration has in tackling the pandemic and said it would partner with the private sector and technology companies to help bolster the public health response.

With regards to opening schools, he said Biden is intent on reopening them safely and that broadband and digital infrastructure would play a significant role in enabling that.

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