If elected, Biden pledges to join Paris climate deal

Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden has pledged to join the Paris climate agreement, which the United States officially left on Wednesday, the first day of his presidency.

The United States effectively left the Paris climate agreement on Wednesday and a possible return of Washington to this international treaty is suspended from the still unknown result of the American presidential election. A victory for Joe Biden and the world's largest economy would immediately join international efforts against global warming again. “Today, the Trump administration officially left the Paris climate agreement. And in exactly 77 days a Biden administration will join it,” he tweeted.

A re-election of Donald Trump and the country would on the other hand go it alone for at least four more years. Following the presidential election on Tuesday, the counting of the votes continues in several states and neither of the two candidates has yet been declared the winner. Joe Biden has presented a plan of 1.7 trillion dollars for the United States to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Since arriving at the White House, the Republican president has for his part defended the fossil fuel industry, questioned scientists on climate change and unraveled several environmental safeguards.

If Donald Trump were to obtain a second term, the fight for the climate will pass through states, municipalities and companies, whose initiatives, even without the support of the federal government, could allow the United States to reduce its carbon emissions. by 37% by 2030, according to a recent report by America's Pledge. If Joe Biden wins, the United States will have to officially notify the UN of their desire to return to the Paris Agreement. "There is a growing coalition of countries in favor of carbon neutrality by the middle of the century," United Nations spokesman Stéphane Dujarric noted Wednesday, citing recent commitments by the United Nations. South Korea and Japan. "Our support, our belief in an actively implemented Paris agreement remains unchanged," he added. Notifying the UN will be "the easy part," Andrew Light, environmental adviser to former Democratic President Barack Obama, told AFP, stressing that the world's leading power will be left "out of trade" when the UK Uni will host the international climate conference COP26 on December 12.

One of the objectives of the Paris agreement, signed in December 2015 by 195 countries, is to contain the rise in temperatures to 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era. And according to Dutch researcher Niklas Höhne, a member of the Climate Action Tracker group, "Biden's climate plan alone could reduce temperature increases by around 0.1 ° C". "International climate policy will be a double or a half on this election," he said on Twitter. "Every tenth of a degree counts."

Beyond the divisions

Defenders of the environment believe that some countries, such as Australia, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, took advantage of the announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement to revise their own ambitions downwards. And even if the United States were to quickly get back on the bandwagon, their credibility could be called into question. They were, after all, among the architects of the Kyoto accord, which they ultimately never ratified. Hence the need, for Andrew Light, to initiate a sufficiently ambitious and sustainable climate policy so that a future Republican administration cannot turn back.

"Studies show that the climate issue goes beyond the divide between Republicans and Democrats with the general public," argues the former adviser to Barack Obama. There are already a few signs that the United States, even if there is still a long way to go, of the slowdown in fossil fuels in favor of renewable energies. Despite Donald Trump's efforts to revive the industry, more coal-fired power stations have closed under his presidency than during the second term of his predecessor Barack Obama. And, market forces dictate, the production and consumption of renewable energy broke records in the country in 2019.

Despite everything, natural gas still accounts for more than a third of American energy production with the rise of hydraulic fracturing. This high environmental cost extraction method has become one of the challenges of the presidential campaign, particularly in the key state of Pennsylvania, where many jobs depend on it. Joe Biden, caught between political pragmatism and ecological ambitions, says he sees natural gas as a "bridge" to renewable energies and has pledged not to ban hydraulic fracturing completely.

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