March 4, 2021

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UN lauds ‘day of hope’ as U.S. rejoins Paris climate agreement

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The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said the official return of the United States to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change represents good news for the country and the world.

Mr Guterres disclosed this on Friday during a virtual event to mark the official return of the U.S. to the Paris agreement.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the immediate past American president, Donald Trump, announced in 2017 the decision to withdraw the country from the historic Paris Climate Accord dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in 2020.

The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations last year of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, leaving global climate diplomats to plot a way forward without the cooperation of the world’s largest economy.

However, President Joseph Biden reversed the decision when he assumed office in January.

Mr. Guterres said, “For the past four years, the absence of a key player created a gap in the Paris Agreement; a missing link that weakened the whole. “So today, as we mark the United States re-entry into this treaty, we also recognize its restoration, in its entirety, as its creators intended.”

‘Humility and ambition’

Describing the occasion as “a day of hope”, the Secretary-General said he was particularly pleased to be commemorating the event with John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

“The veteran politician and diplomat was Secretary of State when the US, alongside 194 other countries, adopted the Paris Agreement in December 2015. He was at the UN the following April to sign the treaty, accompanied by his granddaughter.

Mr. Kerry said, “We rejoin the international climate effort with humility and with ambition.”

“Humility knowing that we lost four years during which America was absent from the table, and humility in knowing that today, no country and no continent is getting the job done. But also with ambition, knowing that Paris alone will not do what science tells us we must do together,” he added.

A ‘pivotal’ year for action

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels by curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

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It requires countries to commit to increasingly ambitious climate action through plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Despite the historic achievement of the treaty, the Secretary-General said commitments so far have not been enough, as evidenced by record global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels.

READ ALSO: Paris Agreement: Nigerian govt providing policies to address climate change – Official

“If we don’t change course, we could face a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century,” he warned.

With the latest UN climate conference taking place in Glasgow in November, Mr. Guterres labelled 2021 a “pivotal” year for climate action. The conference, known as COP26, will be a “make it or break it occasion” for the common global future, he said.

The UN chief expressed hope that the U.S. will join the growing global coalition for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

He also underlined the need for “exponential progress” on reducing emissions.

“We expect all governments to present more ambitious concrete and credible Nationally Determined Contributions for the next 10 years, by COP26 in November,” he said.

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