By Haruna Gimba
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres said he looks forward to an era of new leadership towards accelerating climate action, with the US back inside the landmark Paris Agreement.
Following his inauguration as 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden has signed an executive order at the White House, to reverse the previous administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 accord, which seeks to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“I warmly welcome President Biden’s steps to re-enter the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and join the growing coalition of governments, cities, states, businesses and people taking ambitious action to confront the climate crisis”, the UN chief said in a statement.
The US was among 194 countries that signed the Agreement in December 2015 under then President Barack Obama.
His successor, Donald Trump, announced three years later that the country would withdraw from the treaty, a decision which became effective last November.
A new instrument of acceptance of the Paris Agreement by the US was deposited with the Secretary-General, later in the day.
According to the UN chief’s spokesperson, the Paris Agreement will enter into force for the United States on 19 February 2021, in accordance with its article 21 (3).
The Paris Agreement requires governments to commit to increasingly ambitious climate action through plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
The Secretary-General recalled that countries producing half of all global carbon pollution committed to carbon neutrality, or net-zero emissions, following a summit held last month.
“Today’s commitment by President Biden brings that figure to two-thirds. But there is a very long way to go,” he said.
“The climate crisis continues to worsen, and time is running out to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and build more climate-resilient societies that help to protect the most vulnerable.”
António Guterres also underlined his commitment to work with the new US President and other world leaders to address the climate crisis and COVID-19 recovery.
Last year, the UN was forced to postpone its latest global climate change conference, known as COP26, due to the pandemic.
“We look forward to the leadership of United States in accelerating global efforts towards net zero, including by bringing forward a new nationally determined contribution with ambitious 2030 targets and climate finance in advance of COP26 in Glasgow later this year”, the statement said.