US re-joining the Paris Agreement: what happened and what’s next

It has become common knowledge that climate change is a crisis that requires immediate attention and solutions. Yet, the pathway of collaboration towards reversing the damages caused so far has been interrupted by former US President Donald Trump. In this regard, he signed the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, an international binding pact signed by 196 countries in 2015, which aims at limiting global warming to below 2°.  What is more surprising is that such an agreement was stipulated in the framework of the Conference of Parties 21 (CoP21), a body working for the United Nations (UN). This article aims at explaining what the CoP is, what explanations were given in justifying the US withdrawal and re-joining and, eventually, illustrates CoP26 and the steps to come.

Specifically, the CoP is the decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention is an almost global pact (197 members) that operates in the field of sustainability. Therefore, we can safely say that the US was a leading country in fostering laws and cooperation for a greener future. However, such direction got abruptly interrupted in November 2019, when the US formally concluded their participation in the Paris Agreement. Former President Trump explained that such decision was made in order to safeguard US’ citizens from the loss of jobs and overall GDP decline, which might have happened if the Agreement had been implemented, as it limits the use of carbon-based industries.

A change of prospect has arrived with the newly elected US President, Joe Biden, who signed the instrument for bringing back the US in the Paris Agreement on the first day of his mandate, sending a message of willingness to collaborate in the fight against global warming, also putting the US back as a strong leader. Indeed, he distanced himself from the politics of his predecessor: President Biden said that mitigating the downsides of climate change is an urgent matter and should be treated as a matter of national security. In addition to all this, he mentioned the natural disasters that scientists have directly linked with climate change as a major threat for US citizens. Thus, it is a moral duty to protect US population from encountering damages of all kinds. Finally, he concluded his official statement remembering CoP26, programmed for November 2021, hosted by the United Kingdom in collaboration with Italy, wishing for all involved members to have a successful and collaborative conference, by delivering important steps towards managing climate change. 

What is CoP26?

Some notions about it. As anticipated, the UK will hold it in November 2021 in partnership with Italy. The agenda will focus on reversing the loss of biodiversity and sustainable growth. Moreover, Brexit does not seem to have had an impact on UK’ s commitment to collaborate with the EU in this field. The next steps towards the final Convention will be the “Youth Summit” (September 2021) and the PRE-CoP (Milan, October 2021). 

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