On Wednesday, November 4th, the US became the first country to officially exit the Paris climate agreement, which is aimed at protecting the planet from the impacts of the climate crisis.
Democratic president-elect (as of November 7th, 2020), Joe Biden, has pledged to reverse President Donald Trump's decision to leave the agreement which was ratified by 189 countries.
This agreement is especially important after this year’s countless wildfires and the number of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. However, the US is currently the only country to formally pull out of the deal since it was adopted in 2015. Included in the rules of the agreement, a country cannot officially leave without first notifying the UN of its intent to withdraw a year prior. The US originally made it known of their departure on November 4, 2019, so naturally, on Wednesday they officially left the agreement.
"The United States notified the United Nations of its withdrawal one year ago, on November 4, 2019. Per the terms of the Agreement, that withdrawal takes effect exactly one year after delivery of notification. Today -- November 4, 2020 -- the United States is no longer a Party to the Paris Agreement," said a US State Department spokesperson.
Biden has promised to reenter the agreement as soon as possible after his inauguration, and his $2 trillion climate plan has goals for the US to reach 100% clean electricity generation by 2035. For the US to gain re-entry into the agreement, Biden could submit a notice to the United Nations after his inauguration on January 20, and just 30 days later, the US would officially be back in.
When the US originally joined under the Obama administration, it pledged to cut its emissions by 26 to 28 percent compared to the 2005 levels by 2025. However, today, analysis shows the US is nowhere near hitting those targets.
Under the rules of being part of the agreement, countries are expected and pledge to lower greenhouse gas emissions every five years. Before the pandemic postponed a major UN climate summit, 2020 was supposed to be the next mile marker for countries to make new and even better pledges to lowering greenhouse emissions.
“If the US were to reenter, it would be expected to announce more ambitious reductions to achieve by 2030, and outline detailed plans for how it will hit those goals, according to Andrew Light, a former senior climate official in the Obama administration's State Department.” (Source: CNN).
The United States claiming their spot back on the agreement would be the easy part. Creating a plan to substantially lower the greenhouse emissions to match the goals made under the Obama administration, now that is the bigger challenge.