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Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Here’s what happens next

  • November 21, 2020

While the official U.S. exit from the accord further isolated Washington from the rest of the world, it won’t necessarily have an immediate impact on international efforts to mitigate climate change and implement the framework of the agreement.

However, nearly every country in the world is part of the agreement. Of the 195 countries that signed the agreement, 189 countries officially adopted the accord, and no other country besides the U.S. has abandoned it.

“Since the U.S. has one of the biggest economies in the world and has contributed the most to climate change, it is incredibly important that the U.S. return to the Paris agreement,” said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, a lead author of the 2018 U.N. report on climate change.

The pact is a nonbinding agreement among nations to reduce emissions and keep the increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels.

Global temperatures have already risen 1.2 C, or 2.2 F, since preindustrial levels, and the atmosphere is on track to warm up by 1.5 C, or 2.7 F, over the next two decades.

Warming at 2 degrees Celsius could trigger an international food crisis in coming years, according to a 2019 report from the U.N.’s scientific panel on climate change. The general consensus among scientists is that the climate targets that countries are attempting to meet under the Paris accord are not sufficient.

The next round of U.N. climate talks is set to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021, when countries are expected to submit new, more ambitious 2030 targets — and all eyes will be on the U.S.

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