President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office committing the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement and be counted again among the 189 countries working to mitigate climate change.
The agreement enters into force for the U.S. 30 days after the country deposits its instrument of ratification or accession with the United Nations, based on Article 21.3. The U.S. played a major role in crafting the global agreement under former president Barack Obama.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed America's re-entry into the climate agreement.
"We look forward to the leadership of United States in accelerating global efforts towards net zero," he said.
Former president Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement, saying it would harm U.S. energy policy centered on coal, oil and gas. The U.S. is the second-largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels, after China.
Signed on April 22, 2016, the Paris Agreement is the world's first comprehensive climate pact. Its long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. Since 2016, however, global temperatures have increased by a little more than one degree Celsius.
Biden's move to rejoin the Paris Agreement is a strong signal to the world the U.S. is serious about addressing climate change anew. Biden is expected to issue tough auto emissions standards within the year as part of a raft of climate friendly measures to be pushed by his administration.
Climate activists are looking forward to the U.S. presence when world leaders meet in Glasgow, Scotland for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) where they will make new climate pledges from Nov. 1 to 12.
The conference will incorporate the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), among other important agenda.
The executive action Biden signed Wednesday was one of 17 such orders covering a gamut of policies advocated by Biden and the Democratic Party.