UN chief hails US return to Paris Agreement
United Nations, Feb 20 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has hailed the re-entry of the US into the Paris Agreement on climate change and called for global action to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Today is a day of hope, as the US officially rejoins the Paris Agreement. This is good news for the US, and for the world,” Guterres told a virtual event on Friday to mark the US re-entry, Xinhua news agency reported.
“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,” he said. “Welcome back.”
The US signed the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016, and expressed its consent to be bound by the agreement by acceptance on September 3, 2016. Donald Trump, shortly after taking office as US president, announced in June 2017 that his country would cease all participation in the agreement. The US withdrawal officially took effect on November 4, 2020.
On his first day in the White House, President Joe Biden signed a new instrument of acceptance, which was deposited with the UN secretary-general on the same day, enabling the US re-entry on February 19, 2021, in accordance with provisions of the Paris Agreement.
Guterres on Friday called for US and global action to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Paris Agreement is a historic achievement. But the commitments made so far are not enough. And even those commitments made in Paris are not being met, said Guterres.
The six years since 2015, when the Paris Agreement was negotiated, have been the six hottest years on record. Carbon dioxide levels are at record highs. Fires, floods and other extreme weather events are getting worse, in every region, he said. “If we don’t change course, we could face a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century.”
This year is pivotal for global climate action, and the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November will be a make-or-break occasion. Governments will take decisions that will determine the future of people and the planet, he said.
The US, together with all members of the Group of 20 largest economies in the world, has a decisive role in delivering three main objectives: the long-term vision, the decade of transformation, and urgent climate action now, he said.
A central objective for the United Nations this year is to create a truly global coalition for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, he said.