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Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord

January 20, 2021

The US president signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris climate agreement as part of a series of Day One actions to reverse course on immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of coronavirus.

Joe Biden in the Oval Office
Joe Biden has signed a series of orders on topics such as the coronavirus and climate changeImage: Jim Watson/AFP

US President Joe Biden signed 15 executive orders on Wednesday, soon after entering the White House following his inauguration. This includes an order rejoining the Paris climate accord, aimed at reversing some of the former President Donald Trump's policies.

"Some of the executive actions I'm going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we're going to combat climate change in a way that we haven't done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities" said Biden.

"These are just all starting points."

Currently, 189 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, through which states monitor their fossil fuel emissions and work towards reducing carbon pollution. The US left the accord at the behest of Donald Trump, who announced the departure in 2017.

"A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,'' Biden said in his inaugural address.  

He plans to enact a $2 trillion (€1.65 trillion) climate plan, which he says will prioritize green action in the economy and the country's recovery from COVID-19.

Fight against the coronavirus

Biden also signed an executive order mandating that people wear face masks in all federal buildings and on federal lands in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

The US President has also signed orders establishing a new White House office to coordinate the country’s response to the virus, and halting the US’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

Biden has asked everyone in the United States to wear a mask when in public for at least the first 100 days of his presidency. Over 400,000 people have lost their lives to the virus in the country.

Rollback of Trump-era immigration policies

President Biden also signed a number of orders undoing his predecessor’s controversial policies on immigration, including a rollback of a travel ban on 13 mostly majority-Muslim countries.

Biden also revoked Trump's emergency declaration that helped in funding the construction of a border wall, one of the former president’s pet projects.

Moving forward

The flurry of executive actions on Biden’s first day in office only set the tone for the days to come. The president said there was "no time to waste".

"In the coming days and weeks, we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the president-elect's promises to the American people," Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said.

This includes reversing policies that block US funding for overseas programs linked to abortion, repealing a ban on military service by transgender Americans, extended moratorium on evictions and a suspension of student loan payments until later in the year.

see, jsi,fb/rc (AP, Reuters, dpa)