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Is the US Rejoining the Paris Agreement the Key to Global Climate Leadership?

Joe Biden Signing Document

The move indicates America’s decision to reclaim its leadership role in the fight against climate change and signals to the world that the US is setting the terms of international engagement on the climate crisis.

The US, under the Trump administration formally exited the landmark international agreement in 2017, becoming the only country to do so, citing unfair economic burdens for the withdrawal. This is despite 189 countries ratifying the agreement to limit global warming.

Today’s move is seen as a ‘first step’ toward repairing the country’s international reputation, after the damage created by previous administrations’ climate policies and previous withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol.

President Biden wants America’s post-pandemic economic recovery to be spearheaded by clean/renewable energy industries forecast to create more than 250,000 jobs. With the country committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the US is positioning itself as the global, renewable energy superpower and climate change watchdog prepared to use its full economic power to ensure compliance with the Paris Accord.

In stark contrast to President Biden’s leadership on climate change, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today pledged support for the coal mining industry into the foreseeable future. Continued support for mining ‘dirty’ fossil fuels, can only be described as a ‘not very bright’ retrograde step that deposits our international reputation and jeopardises our post-pandemic economic recovery.

With the US set to reap the economic benefits of renewable energy, Australia’s economic prosperity and potential for climate change impacts are tied to a dying, fossil fuel industry. This short-sighted view to “drive our economic recovery”, is increasingly dangerous – economically, socially and environmentally. The modern Australian workforce needs to be trained and transitioned into new and clever green industries of the future. Instead, we risk missing out on the economic opportunities and long-term security offered by the renewables sector. At the same time, we risk significant economic repercussions from global trade sanctions and boycotts for non-compliance to GHG reductions, as per our legal obligations under the Paris Accord.

Australia, like the US, could become a renewable energy superpower. We’ve enough viable land to go solar and enough minerals required for the manufacture of renewable infrastructure. We just need a government that listens and enacts the wishes of the people they have sworn to "truly serve".


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