Biden to sign America back into Paris Agreement; good move or political blunder?

Jake Gay, Reporter

    With the victory this past November, the President-elect has been appointing various secretaries and department heads. Notably, the Biden-Harris administration has filled the “climate envoy” position that was created in 2011 but has been left vacant during the outgoing administration. Appointed to this position is former Secretary of State, John Kerry. 

     Kerry was the original representative and signer for the United States at the Paris Climate Agreement. It is due to this, and promises from Elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that it seems almost certain that the United States will rejoin the agreement that the Trump Administration pulled out of. 

     Although Kerry has been an advocate to battle climate change, many have dismissed this appointment saying that it is politically motivated and a favor to a long term supporter. 

     The Paris climate agreement is a large scale agreement of over 100 countries to limit carbon emissions along with greenhouse gas. Currently, the Paris Agreement has 195 signatories, accounting for about 55 percent of greenhouse emissions around the globe. America is among the minuscule number of countries that have withdrawn its membership.

     As of December 2020, seven countries have still yet to ratify the agreement. These countries are in the middle-east and mainly countries with high amounts of oil and conflict, altogether the countries account for about 4 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is compared to The United States emissions percentage which accounts for 13 percent of global emissions. 

     During the 2020 Election both Harris along with Biden ran on a platform that vowed to battle climate change. With the ratification of their victory they expanded in their promise, with Vice President-elect Harris tweeting “the Biden-Harris administration will rejoin the Paris Agreement and once again be global leaders in the fight against the climate crisis.” 

     During the campaign and during transition the choice to rejoin the agreement was met with great opposition. This is due to many declaring that the agreement has been ineffective in its purpose. These claims are partially true due to most countries not upholding to their oaths to reduce carbon-emissions. 

     However, supporters of the agreement have refuted these claims saying that the Paris Agreement outlines a plan for over a decade. As of November 2020, the signatories are not on track to meet their goal of limiting temperature change to only 1.5 degrees celsius by at least 2050.

      Most scientists have declared that while the agreement has made many important advancements, it is still ineffective in combating the climate crisis.

     Climate scientists at Princeton University addressed the effectiveness of the agreement stating that “based on whether we have any prospect of meeting a 2°C target, from that point of view, it’s probably a D or an F.” He continued his summarization saying “the real difference has been helping climate change become a top concern of many countries.” 

     In accordance with the criticisms of countries not upholding their promise, many have spotlighted the lack of binding reinforcement that would make the countries financially burdened if they did not meet their goal. Though, there is a chance countries who did not meet their expectations would have to pay, this remains unlikely. 

     It is likely that the true benefits and consequences of the Paris agreement will not be known for some time. Although, with or without the agreement almost all scientists agree that across the world countries need to do more to battle climate change.