President Biden announced Friday that the U.S. has officially rejoined the Paris climate agreement, reentering the international accord without Senate ratification a month after signing a directive to reverse the Trump administration’s exit.
Mr. Biden made the announcement Friday at the Munich Security Conference, which is being held virtually this year, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement saying that “the United States officially becomes a Party again today.”
“We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change. This is a global existential crisis,” Mr. Biden said. “As of today, the United States is officially once again party to the Paris agreement, which we helped put together.”
The quick reentry came in sharp contrast to the prolonged exit, which took four years under the agreement’s terms prohibiting nations from leaving within three years of joining, and then another year after giving formal notice of intent to withdraw. The U.S. exit became official on Nov. 4.
“The Paris Agreement is an unprecedented framework for global action,” Mr. Blinken said. “We know because we helped design it and make it a reality. Its purpose is both simple and expansive: to help us all avoid catastrophic planetary warming and to build resilience around the world to the impacts from climate change we already see.”
Under the 2015 accord’s terms, U.S. officials pledged to achieve a 26% to 28% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2025 from 2005 levels, a far more stringent goal than that of China, the world’s largest emitter, which agreed to reach peak emissions in 2030.
Former President Trump, who said the agreement would undermine the U.S. economy, refused to abide by the U.S. pledge. Even so, the U.S. continued to lead the world in reducing emissions on a per-country basis during his tenure as natural gas replaced coal in electricity generation, fueled by cheaper gas prices from hydraulic fracturing.
Mr. Biden vowed during the 2020 campaign to reenter the accord, citing the “existential threat” from climate change.
Climate activists cheered the move.
“With this commitment, our country can reclaim a leadership role in addressing one of the most daunting challenges of our time,” said Andrea McGimsey, Environment America’s senior director for global warming solutions.
House Republicans led by Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, introduced a bill on Jan. 21 to block any funding to support the agreement until the Senate ratifies the accord.
Former President Obama entered the agreement in 2016 by executive order over the objections of Senate Republicans, who argued that the agreement was a treaty and therefore subject to Senate ratification under the Constitution.
“The Paris Climate Accord is an illegal effort to implement an international treaty without Senate ratification,” tweeted JunkScience founder Steve Milloy, adding that if the measure is so popular, “why doesn’t Joe Biden submit it to the Senate?”
Climate Depot’s Marc Morano, author of the upcoming book “Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal is Even Worse Than You Think,” called the announcement “a meaningless virtue signal by the Biden administration.”
“The planet will not notice one bit whether the UN Paris pact exists or whether the U.S. is a part of it,” Mr. Morano said in an email. “Even the UN officials now admit that the Paris pact did not ‘save’ the planet as [carbon dioxide] emissions continued to rise.”
Biden global climate czar John Kerry acknowledged last month that “Paris is not enough,” emphasizing the importance of the president’s additional executive orders on climate and energy.
“Ninety percent of all of the planet’s global emissions come from outside of US borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved,” Mr. Kerry said.
Democrats said Friday that reentering the accord sends an important message about U.S. climate leadership.
“We’re not going to address the challenge of our time by sitting on the sidelines,” tweeted Rep. Andy Kim, New Jersey Democrat. “Proud to see us back in the #ParisAgreement. It’s time to lead on climate again.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said that the “climate crisis cannot be solved by any city, state or country alone. By rejoining we’ve affirmed to the world that we’re serious about doing our part to win this fight.”