Vote Earth

Ten by Earth Day 2021: Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord

The‌ ‌legacy‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌first‌ ‌Earth‌ ‌Day‌ ‌in‌ ‌1970‌ ‌is‌ ‌rooted‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌sweeping‌ ‌environmen‌tal laws and regulations that resulted, many of which are under threat today. In honor of the 50th anniversary, and now with less than 70 days until the November elections, EARTHDAY.ORG is rolling out the policy initiatives we want to see within the first 100 days of the next Administration, by Earth Day 2021.

This blog is the fifth in our series and focuses on the Paris Climate Accord — an agreement that has come under fire by the current administration but holds the key to international mobilization for climate action.

On November 3, 2020, the United States holds its presidential election. This may be a momentous day for the future of clean energy in this country. November 4, 2020 is equally important.

Last year the current administration took formal steps to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. This action signaled a marked contrast to the U.S. posture four years earlier when President Obama was instrumental in bringing other nations on board. The accord went into force in November 2016, signed by 197 nations, virtually all the countries in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Following the withdrawal timetable, the current administration announced the U.S would depart the agreement on the earliest possible date — November 4, 2020. That decision represents the current posture of the United States, which contributes nearly 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

The Paris agreement calls on countries to reduce overall emissions and meet targets that would keep warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The U.S. had committed to reducing emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025. Reductions would be accomplished through efforts like the Clean Power Plan, higher fuel economy standards, methane capture regulations and the adoption of regional greenhouse gas initiatives by the states. 

While there are growing commitments at the state level, the current administration has abandoned these federal efforts and many more that would cut carbon dioxide and other emissions from energy utilities and the agricultural, manufacturing and transportation sectors. 

Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord would not implement these measures automatically, but it would be a signal that the U.S. is serious about addressing climate change. It would set in motion a series of goals to be achieved in the next five years, during the next decade and prior to 2050.

EARTHDAY.ORG strongly backs rejoining the world in the Paris Climate Accord as a necessary first step to demonstrate U.S. responsibility.

In November 2018, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  This report, released periodically based on Congressional directive in the Global Change Research Act of 1990, is a comprehensive overview of systematic environmental changes and their impacts in the United States.  For those unfamiliar with the most recent report, it has a clear warning, “Climate change is already affecting the American people in far-reaching ways.

Protecting people and the planet requires a commitment from us all — individuals and communities, national and international efforts. This November, Vote Earth to say that action on climate change cannot wait.

Photo credit for image at top: GPA Photo Archive/Flickr