WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS, Jan 21 (APP):In one of his first acts after his inauguration as President of the United States, Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming.
Biden’s executive action, signed in the White House on Wednesday, will see the US rejoin the international effort curb the dangerous heating of the planet, following a 30-day notice period. The world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases was withdrawn from the Paris deal under Donald Trump. Biden vowed to sign on Inauguration Day the documents needed to rejoin the agreement.
Making good on campaign promises, Biden also halted the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) and sent an immigration bill to Congress that proposes opening a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the United States unlawfully.
The executive actions included immediately lifting a travel ban on 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, halting construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and reversing a Trump order preventing migrants who are in the United States illegally from being counted for congressional districts.
In New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the US president’s “positive steps”, some of which will strengthen frayed cooperation with the world body.
“I am committed to working closely with President Biden and other leaders to overcome the climate emergency, and recover better from COVID-19,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
In mid-April last year, as the coronavirus pandemic was spreading across the globe, then-president Trump cut off U.S. funding to the WHO, saying it was “virtually controlled by China.” He then went further, triggering the process to pull the U.S. completely out of the UN health agency. The withdrawal was due to go into effect in July, but Biden’s order will cancel it.
The WHO’s Executive Board has been meeting virtually this week, and the Biden administration announced that a U.S. delegation, headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, will participate. The administration has also said it will join Covax, an international alliance dedicated to equitable access to and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially in poorer countries.
There have been more than 96 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 2 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the data. About a quarter of the cases and one-fifth of the deaths have been in the United States.
“Supporting the WHO is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts for a better coordinated response against COVID-19,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at UN Headquarters in New York. “Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.”
The 2015 climate agreement, signed by virtually every country in the world, aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and limit the planet’s temperature increase during this century to 2 degrees Celsius, while working to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees.
Biden has also appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as the United States’ first presidential envoy on climate and made him a part of his National Security Council.
“Following last year’s Climate Ambition Summit, countries producing half of global carbon pollution had committed to carbon neutrality,” the UN chief said. “Today’s commitment by President Biden brings that figure to two-thirds. But there is a very long way to go.”
Guterres said he looks forward to U.S. leadership to accelerate global efforts toward net zero emissions, including with ambitious 2030 targets and climate finance ahead of the next climate review conference in November.
U.N. spokesman Dujarric said that Guterres is sending a congratulatory letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and that he looks forward to working with them.
“It is going to be, I think, a very active and positive engagement between the secretary-general and this new administration,” Dujarric told reporters.