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As US Prepares to Reenter Paris Agreement, Campaigners Urge Biden to Contribute 'Fair Share' to Tackling Climate Crisis

"We are calling upon you and your administration to walk the walk of real climate leadership."

Young climate activists gathered in fron of the PM's office in protest against neglecting climate issue, in Warsaw, Poland, on December 9, 2020, (Photo: Piotr Lapinski/Nur Photo via Getty Images)

Polish youth demonstrate for climate action in Warsaw on December 9, 2020. (Photo: Piotr Lapinski/Nur Photo via Getty Images)

On the eve of the United States' formal reentry into the Paris climate agreement on February 19, more than 50,000 people and nearly 200 global advocacy groups have signed a petition demanding that President Joe Biden commit the country to doing its "fair share" to combat the climate crisis.

"Out of the devastation of the coronavirus and the Trump administration, the president must seize this singular chance to build back a just, clean energy system that tackles the climate crisis and the wretched racism embedded in it."
—Jean Su,
Center for Biological Diversity

The petition is linked to a February 17 sign-on letter led by ActionAid USA, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Equity Reference Project, Corporate Accountability, Friends of the Earth U.S., and N.C. Interfaith Power & Light, which "represent millions of people across the United States who demand a climate just future, including youth, women, low-income communities, racially diverse communities, faith communities, and others."

Noting that "the United States has contributed more to climate change than any other country in the world" and that "it is also the world's wealthiest country, with much of this wealth being accumulated through activities that have directly or indirectly fueled climate change," the letter stresses that the Biden administration must "do its fair share in addressing this crisis."

"The people who voted for a better future are now ready to demand it from your administration," it states. "Amid a climate emergency that is wreaking unprecedented havoc, we write to you with an urgent request that is vitally important."

"We are calling upon you and your administration to walk the walk of real climate leadership," urges the letter, which outlines a climate action plan with the goal of "achieving the equivalent of a 195% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030." 

In order to accomplish such an ambitious reduction in emissions, the letter recommends:

  • Cutting domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70% below 2005 levels, by 2030, as part of a plan to decarbonize the entire economy as quickly as possible;
  • Halting all new and phasing out existing fossil fuel extraction and justly transitioning the energy system to 100% clean and renewable energy; and
  • Achieving the remaining 125% of the 195% reductions by directly supporting developing countries with the financial and technological assistance needed to reduce their emissions beyond what they can or should have to do on their own.

"After disproportionately polluting the planet for centuries, the United States must take its fair share of robust climate action on both the domestic and global stage," said Center for Biological Diversity justice director Jean Su in a statement announcing the petition. "While President Biden's climate executive order is a strong first step, declaring a climate emergency will call this crisis what it is and level up the legal tools for confronting it."

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"Out of the devastation of the coronavirus and the Trump administration, the president must seize this singular chance to build back a just, clean energy system that tackles the climate crisis and the wretched racism embedded in it," Su added. "The U.S. must help finance that same transition across the world in communities who have contributed the least to this climate emergency."

Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid USA, said that "just as domestic climate justice—a priority for the Biden administration—means a particular focus on historically marginalized communities, global climate justice means addressing legacies of exploitation and colonialism and their role in creating a tragically unjust climate crisis."

"People around the world are already suffering from devastating climate impacts, and many of those most vulnerable had little or no role in causing the problem," Wu continued. "As the world's largest historical climate polluter, the United States has a moral and legal responsibility to support those vulnerable communities."

"The American people must begin a profound new conversation about global climate justice and about the U.S.' fair share in the shared global effort of stabilizing the climate system."
—USCAN

The petition and letter follow a December 2020 analysis by the U.S. Climate Action Network (USCAN), which laid out what it called a "vision for equitable and ambitious climate action." 

"The American people must begin a profound new conversation about global climate justice and about the U.S.' fair share in the shared global effort of stabilizing the climate system," asserted USCAN.

In related news, Common Dreams reported last week that a new study by University of Washington researchers warned that countries must dramatically increase efforts to reduce planet-heating emissions in order to meet the Paris climate agreement's less-than-ideal target of limiting temperature rise to 2°C by the end of this century.

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