President-Elect Biden May Step Up US Role In Paris Agreement But Faces Senate Hurdle, Scientist Says


by Demond Cureton

The role of the United States in multilateral institutions could strengthen following the US elections, namely after Democratic rival Joe Biden was named President-Elect in November, leading to his transition team outlining numerous challenges to tackle in a task force for his future administration.

Sputnik spoke to Dr Sweta Chakraborty, risk and behavioural scientist and US representative for Sweden-based tech startup We Don’t Have Time. She has also launched Adapt To Thrive, a business consultancy aimed at preparing governments, individuals and businesses for climate ‘threat multipliers’, or risks from knock-on effects of climate change.

She has also appeared on TEDx Talks, CGTN, Fox News, the BBC, and many other international media outlets.

Speaking on the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement, Dr Chakraborty said the Accords were designed to allow the 197 signatures of the document to “give significant notice before exiting”.

US president Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 agreement in November last year, citing threats to the US economy, and formally exited the pact on Thursday.

“This was critical to give validity to the pledge and the process. Trump’s announcement of a US exit, despite not being able to go into immediate effect, still sent the signal that the accords were not going to be as effective as initially hoped,” she said.

But US involvement in the Agreement was vital and members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had urged Washington to rejoin the agreement.

Failure for both the US and Chinese to join the Accord as the world’s largest carbon emitters would weaken it “all around”, she explained.

China had promised to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 with Japan pledging similar targets to “send a signal to the international community on who the new global leaders are” in tackling climate change.

“The Paris Accords were designed with US leadership in mind to set the global standards. Without US commitment, less polluting countries lose incentive for making similar efforts. The world still moved forward in addressing the climate crisis, but hardly with the level of urgency and commitment that a US lead would have enforced,” she explained.

US president-elect Joe Biden had vowed to rejoin the Paris Accords and pledged $2tn to build a Green New Deal by 2050 if elected. But reaching those targets may be difficult as Democrats may not earn a majority of seats in the Senate.

Democrats currently hold 48 seats in the 2020 Senate race and Republicans 49, with Georgia and Alaska still undeclared, according to US media reports.

“This will make implementation of Biden’s climate platform difficult. Biden can rejoin the Paris Accords without US Senate ratification, but the necessary urgent action needed to be taken by the US will likely be stymied by a hostile senate,” she said.

The news comes as Biden’s launched a transition team to tackle numerous challenges after taking office, including rejoining the Paris Agreement, suppressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and fighting police brutality, among others.

Global leaders in France, Australia and others have welcomed the US return to the Agreement, it was reported.

The US President-Elect has also pledged $2tn to invest in green infrastructure across the US over the next four years, financed by taxes on corporations and the wealthy along with deficit spending.



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