In one of his first acts as president, Joe Biden issued an executive order returning the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The Paris Agreement was adopted by a United Nations climate conference in Paris in December 2015. It entered into force on November 4, 2016, with the United Nations listing 190 Parties to the Agreement as of January 25, 2021. The Paris Agreement creates an unprecedented framework for global action to avoid potentially catastrophic planetary warming while building global resilience to the climate impacts, we are already experiencing.
The Agreement seeks to limit the rise in overall global temperature to less than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, with a target of no more than 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, the point at which many scientists predict the consequences of climate change would ramp up, including catastrophic sea-level rise and more extreme storms, droughts, and wildfires.
President Biden has made clear he intends climate change to be a major priority for his administration. Accordingly, rejoining the Paris Agreement was one of Biden's key campaign promises. In his inaugural speech he noted, “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said rejoining the Paris Agreement is part of President Biden’s broader priority of “rebuilding our partnerships and alliances around the world and regaining America’s seat at the global table. And you can see that as evidenced in his rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, rejoining the World Health Organization; his plans to engage with partners and allies and work together to address many of the threats and issues we’re facing around the world.”
Additionally, President Biden named former Secretary of State John Kerry as the first ever Special Presidential Envoy for Climate — to ensure climate concerns are represented at every table, including in the Situation Room. He will lead the United States’ diplomatic efforts to reassert U.S. climate leadership and raise global ambition to meet the daunting climate challenge.
The international community is welcoming the United States back into the Paris Agreement, including French President Emanuel Macron: "We are together. We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet.” He tweeted, “Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!"