The new President of the United States of America, Joe Biden assumed office on January 20th, 2021. He started his tenure by signing 17 executive orders on the first day itself to bring about the contradiction in his policies from the previous Trump administration.
Of these orders, one was for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. The move is highly significant as U.S. involvement in the agreement is set to strengthen the international resolve to fight against global warming and climate change.
The move was one of Biden’s campaign promises. “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” Biden said in his inaugural speech. “A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.”
How will the affect India?
With the U.S. rejoining the climate accord, the global climate agenda is set for considerable recalibration. It will take the Biden administration about 30 days before it formally returns to the climate accord, after which it is expected to push the climate agenda more firmly, placing greater stress on countries like India to spell out even more ambitious climate action targets, pledge for carbon neutrality like China, and more.
In addition to this, China is vigorously pursuing building an ecological civilisation, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak. The country is adopting what many experts are terming it as ‘coercive environmentalism’ under President Xi Jinping, for bringing about a fast and effective balance between environment and development.
President Biden’s aggressive stance on climate action may very well result in collaboration between the two countries for climate action. If India does not amplify its climate policies, it might be at a disadvantage in terms of its relations with one of its strongest ally, in favour of one of its competitor.
While there has been no fresh outreach from the US administration on the climate change issue so far, it is highly likely to come up ahead of the 47th G-7 summit in the UK in June where prime minister Modi is also an invitee.
With the US returning as a powerful advocate to the climate cause, its approach will be closely watched, especially given the misgivings among the developing nations on lack of climate finance and unfair climate action expectations.
In order to maintain its stance in global politics, India will need to balance very carefully its environmental commitments with its development agenda.