By Haruna Gimba
U.S President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders from the Oval Office hours after his inauguration.
Biden plans to kick off his new administration on Wednesday with orders to restore the United States to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Biden signed three orders on camera for reporters: first creating a mask mandate on federal properties, then an order to address underserved communities and create a standard of equality.
The third order rejoins the Paris climate accord, fulfilling a campaign pledge. The move undoes the U.S. withdrawal ordered by predecessor former President Donald Trump, who belittled the science behind climate efforts, loosened regulations on heat-trapping oil, gas and coal emissions, and spurred oil and gas leasing in pristine Arctic tundra and other wilderness.
The Paris accord commits 195 countries and other signatories to come up with a goal to reduce carbon pollution and monitor and report their fossil fuel emissions. The United States is the world’s No. 2 carbon emitter after China.
Biden also issued executive orders reversing some Trump’s immigration policies, such as halting work on a U.S.-Mexico border wall and lifting a travel ban on people from several predominantly Muslim countries.
He also ordered his Cabinet to work to keep deportation protections for hundreds of thousands of people brought to the U.S. as children.
On the Coronavirus pandemic, the president is requiring the use of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors.
Consistently masking up is a practice that science has shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, particularly when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
He is challenging all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration. That’s a critical period, since communities will still be vulnerable to the virus even as the pace of vaccination increases in pursuit of Biden’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.
President Biden also directed the government to rejoin the World Health Organization, which Donald Trump withdrew from earlier this year after accusing it of incompetence and bowing to Chinese pressure over the coronavirus.
Symbolizing Biden’s commitment to a more prominent global role, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients announced that Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver a speech Thursday to the WHO as head of a U.S. delegation.
Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, will lay out how the administration intends to work with the WHO on reforms, supporting the coronavirus response and promoting global health and health security.
Biden also signed executive orders to rejoin the Paris climate accord, fulfilling a campaign pledge to get back into the global climate pact on Day One. Trump, a supporter of oil, gas and coal, had made a first priority of pulling out of global efforts to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions.
Agencies will be directed to consider impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities and on future generations from any regulatory action that affected fossil fuel emissions, a new requirement.