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Saturday, November 07, 2020

What can Biden do for the environment?

At the time of writing there has still not been a result in the US election but a Biden victory is looking more and more certain. The question now, is what will really change from an international point of view?

Well for a start, Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement, in addition to bringing about a package of measures that would represent the most ambitious climate plan of any US president to date:

A rejoining of the Paris Agreement under a possible Biden administration would send “a very significant signal” to the rest of world, Pete Betts, the former lead climate negotiator for the UK and EU and current fellow of Chatham House, told The Independent.

“If, as it looks like, it’s Biden, then clearly there will be a boost to momentum on tackling climate change over the next year in particular, but also the next four years,” he said.

“First of all, you’ve got the world’s biggest economy and second biggest emitter, who were previously out of the game, needing to put forward an ambitious [climate plan].

“The second thing is we’ll have the diplomatic weight adding major heft to raise ambition from other countries.”

A key element of Mr Biden’s climate plan is a commitment for the US to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

If Mr Biden is elected, it would mean more than three-fifths of global carbon emissions will be under net-zero targets.

It would also mean that the US would follow in the footsteps of other major economies, including Japan, the EU and the UK, which have all already made pledges to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. China, the world’s largest emitter, shocked the world in October when it too announced intentions to reach “carbon neutrality” by 2060. (It is still unclear whether China’s pledge covers all greenhouse gas emissions or only carbon emissions.)

A Biden victory would also see greater diplomatic cooperation on climate between the US and the UK, which is due to host a major UN climate summit, Cop26, in Glasgow in 2021, Mr Betts told The Independent.

“I do think Americans, the Europeans and the UK – as Cop26 president, will put pressure on allies like Japan, Australia and Canada to raise their game,” he said.

So from an environmental point of view things are starting to look up.
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