The Paris Climate Agreement and Its Impact on the US Congress
The Paris Climate Agreement is an international treaty that aims to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Representatives from 196 countries, including the United States, signed the agreement in 2015. The Paris Agreement sets a global target of limiting the average global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a goal of limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also requires countries to regularly report on their progress toward reducing emissions.
The United States formally joined the agreement in 2016, when President Barack Obama signed the treaty. However, in 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the agreement, calling it “unfair” to American workers and businesses. This decision was met with criticism from environmentalists, scientists, and world leaders.
In 2021, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement under the Biden administration, signaling a renewed commitment to combating climate change. The Biden administration has set a goal of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The Paris Climate Agreement has also had an impact on the US Congress. In 2019, a group of House Democrats introduced the “Climate Action Now Act,” which aimed to prevent the United States from withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and required the administration to develop a plan to meet the emissions reduction goals set forth in the agreement. The bill passed the House but did not make it through the Senate.
In 2021, Democrats in the Senate and the House introduced the “THRIVE Act,” which aims to address climate change and economic inequality by investing in green infrastructure and creating jobs in clean energy industries. The bill includes targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that align with the Paris Agreement’s goals.
While the Paris Climate Agreement is not a law and does not have binding requirements, it provides a global framework for countries to work together to combat climate change. The United States’ recommitment to the agreement and the introduction of climate-focused legislation in Congress signal a growing recognition of the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for action. As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of climate change, the Paris Climate Agreement will likely continue to influence policy decisions and discussions in the US Congress.