Trust America again? Climate leaders hope for Biden to bring America back on track

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LONDON – As congratulatory messages for the presidential election, which Biden poured from around the world on Saturday, a broader theme began to emerge: climate change.

From Canada to New Zealand, world leaders hoped that Biden would strengthen efforts to fight global warming after the US’s four-year absence led by President Donald Trump.

But the messages come with some news. Convincing the world to trust America again will be a challenge in light of Trump’s withdrawal from multilateral treaties and organizations when it comes to international commitments.

“America’s political dissonance on this issue has been demonstrated and will take years to repair in terms of trust on an international stage,” said Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and Environment at UCLA.

Experts say there are some immediate steps that they observe.

On November 4, the next day after the election, the US officially abandoned the Landmark Paris Agreement, the world’s most important effort to fight climate change. Trump announced his six-month presidential exit from the 2015 accord, saying it hurt the US – a move that shocked US allies and climate activists.

Before the election, Biden promised Reunite America for agreement On his first day in office, January 20, when he takes the oath.

If the US is able to rejoin quickly, then a three-month difference between official departure and reioning will not matter much. But the sudden shift by the US does not bode well for the future of the country as a climate leader.

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Some 189 countries are committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to increase the worldwide average temperature to “below 3.6 ° F” or 2 ° C.

Horowitz said that the agreement in its initial form was not enough to reverse climate change, but it could motivate countries to make each other climate progress and generate collective trust, in which to make long-term differences is needed. .

“So when Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, he pulled the rug out of those efforts,” Horowitz said.

Experts say the re-issue of the Paris Agreement will be the first step for Biden. He has promised to integrate climate change into his foreign and trade policies and re-include the US into the Green Climate Fund, a financial mechanism to help developing countries deal with climate change, which Trump has backfired Took, as well, that it cost the US “a huge fortune.”

Horowitz said that would be an important part of Biden’s effort to rebuild the international trust.

“If the US is able to invest significantly in vehicles like this climate fund, that can help rebuild confidence in real ways and demonstrate that the US is serious about taking back leadership,” he said .

Biden has a plan for this. He campaigned on the most ambitious climate plan of any presidential candidate, promising $ 2 trillion to invest in clean energy infrastructure and zero reduction in carbon emissions from electricity in 15 years. He also promised to set the US on a path of net-zero emissions by 2050, which has already pledged to more than 60 countries.

They will be expected to make equally ambitious commitments at next year’s United Nations climate summit, where countries are expected to emerge with the goal of new and more elevated emissions reductions.

Nicholas Stern, an economist and chairwoman, said the US would have a lot to catch up with players like the European Union and China, who have used the absence of the Trump administration to bolster their leadership with bold climate initiatives. For the Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics.

The European Union has embarked on becoming the world’s first “climate-neutral” continent by 2050, dubbing Europe’s “man on the moon”. Meanwhile, China, the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, shocked the world by pledging to become “carbon neutral” by 2060.

“They have assumed that the path of net-zero is the story of this century’s growth,” said Stern. “Political leadership in the world is also changing, and leadership on climate change is part of that story.”

Finally, Biden’s climate actions at home may be the most powerful signal to the international community that he is serious about leading on climate change.

But how capable he will be domestically depends on who controls the Senate, as well as his willingness to adopt comprehensive climate change measures. Biden could also face hurdles in the Supreme Court, which is increasingly conservative-leaning.

“It’s certainly not just up to Biden,” Horowitz said. “But without leadership from above, we won’t get anywhere.”

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