Trump’s plan has finally materialized today with America’s formal exit from the Paris Agreement, but Biden promises to get back in.
The US has formally left the Paris Agreement – this couldn’t have materialized at a better time. Joe Biden, riding on the hopes of a win that is already appalling the Trump camp, has announced that his administration will re-join it in 77 days. Whether America goes on to re-join the agreement or not, there’s no overlooking the fact that Trump’s disruptive spontaneity upholding an ‘America-First’ falsity has done much damage to the country’s reputation and standing.
The Paris Climate Accord is not only vital to keeping the global temperature increase below 2 degree Celsius, it’s also a deciding element in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals set with a 2030 deadline. Because of the pandemic, most countries feel an urge to deviate from these targets and make the most out of their ‘exploitative’ traditional pathways. We cannot risk having the second-largest emitter of Green House Gases walking out of accountability like this – an uproar about the lack of fairness that such multilateral agreements ring in was all that the President needed to make his 2016 campaign promise see the light. It took a while for the actual event and it’s rather unfortunate that the subsequent administration has to bear the brunt of what its predecessor had sown.
But it comes as good news that despite a large economy stepping out of the league – although there will be a return in 77 days, as Biden puts it – the joined global effort hasn’t been reversed to a large extent. It could be a hint of the neutralizing world order where no one nation becomes a lead decision-maker for the others: there’s enough rationale left around for some leaders to step up their actions constructively in the right direction, unlike the quick, jolting retreat of the US. We’ll have to wait and see if the next administration does it any different and if the stalling of climate action in the past term can be overcome in great measure.
When the pandemic first struck early this year, there was a near grave oil crisis which led the US to mediate and somehow convince producers like Russia and Saudi Arabia to reduce their production, given the falling demand and prices. The reduced production gave the Arab countries their second wind: they have found a chance to diversify their industrial sources and focus on renewable energy. The abundance of wind and solar energy obviously hands them a possibility of seamless transition. The pandemic should, as it did for these oil-producers, be a period to reinvent the American economy as well. Sustainable living and sustainable production are the options that we should be pursuing today. The next administration, as part of correcting where the past four years erred, should attend to sustainable solutions. This, along with re-joining the Paris Accord, will facilitate better and undisruptive growth.
It still isn’t late to reverse all the mess-ups. But you can’t waste time either. Acting with
a sense of urgency – mind you, this isn’t spontaneity – should be right atop the administration’s agenda for climate action.