When President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement in 2017, the first date the country could officially leave was Wednesday, November 4, 2020 … the day after the last election. But with President-elect Joe Biden winning, America will now immediately join the biggest climate deal in history in January.
In the end, the nation’s half-baked start was just a colossal waste of time – which is the something we have very little in our fight to control the climate. But now, at least, states can once again focus on the main goals of the deal: limiting warming to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels and limiting the increase to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. . A startling number of 197 countries, even war-ravaged Syria, signed the agreement when it was drafted; 179 of them had their climate proposals approved. Each nation involved has agreed to report regularly on its contributions to this cause. The setting of zero emission target dates was also encouraged.
It was a huge deal when America betrayed that deal. Why – Australia, Brazil, India or Saudi Arabia wondered – would we continue to respect these agreements when the United States, the second most polluting nation in fossil fuels on the planet (after China) do not intend to do it? President Biden’s “day one” agenda to reach Paris, climate experts hope, will change that narrative, and not just for governments around the world, but for the private sector as well. The Paris Agreement is most successful when organizations use its research as a scientific imperative to change the way they do business.
After the pandemic, this could be particularly relevant for the travel industry. Consider: if it was a country, world aviation would rank in the top 10 for greenhouse gas emissions. Business travel – with its high-end cabins and compressed flight schedules – is increasingly seen as one of the more questionable forms of travel in the future. Businesses (many of them American) looking to conduct Paris Accord-compliant operations, and pacified by a year of productive videoconferencing, are already starting to limit business travel in the future, thereby reducing their emissions.
Companies could also consider examining practices such as budgeting or carbon offsetting for their employees, although the researchers stressed that planting trees (which takes years to absorb carbon dioxide) is not an obvious immediate solution to reduce aircraft emissions. Whatever fashionable solutions are, they will most likely be linked to the Paris Agreement. The goals – and the science – have been around for years. They just work a little better when the nation with the world’s largest economy doesn’t turn its back on them.
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