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President-Elect Biden Will Rejoin Paris Climate Accord

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President-Elect Joe Biden is planning to quickly sign a series of Executive Orders shortly after being sworn in on January 20, 2021. This is according to media outlets.

The Washington Post states “He [Biden] will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and…[fulfill] commitments he has made in recent months, and he will reverse President Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.”

Look for new limits on agricultural activities because agriculture is accused of emitting millions of tons of greenhouse gases.

Tax dollars to developing countries

More money will come from the United States and other industrialized countries to provide financial assistance for global environmental initiatives if Mr. Biden has the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.

In October 2019, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) evaluated U.S. financial commitments already expended pursuant to the Paris Climate Agreement (more here). Many observers, including alleged President-Elect Biden, state that “…industrial countries [should] take the lead in addressing these issues…” The CRS report states “The United States and other industrialized countries have committed to providing financial assistance for global environmental initiatives…”

This means the United States will send hundreds of millions of dollars to lower-income countries. President Trump wanted to stop this out flow of taxpayer funds to these countries, where many of the governments are alleged to be corrupt.

What is the GEF?

In Article IV in the Paris Convention, higher income parties will agree to the full costs incurred by a developing country. The Convention established the Global Environmental Facility in 1991 as an international financial institution to provide monies and foster actions in developing countries, in an effort to halt climate change. The GEF is now the financial mechanism for the United States to send money. The George H. W. Bush administration supported creating the GEF in 1991 and since that time the U.S. has sent to the GEF $430 million in 1994, $430 million in 1998, $430 million in 2002, $320 in 2006, $575 million in 2010, $546 million in 2014, and $273 million in 2018.

Since 1994 the U.S. contributed approximately $2.7 billion to the GEF!

In the Cancun Climate Agreement there was a “…pledge by the developed country Parties to achieve a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the climate finance needs of developing countries.”

And now, the Green Climate Fund

Beginning in November 2014 the Obama Administration pledged $3 billion over 4 years. In 2016 the Obama State Department sent $500 million and on January 17, 2017, it sent another $500 million tax dollars to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). In 2018 President Trump submitted a budget request to eliminate U.S. funding of the GCF. On June 1, 2017 President Trump stated his desire to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

It appears the alleged President-Elect Biden will reverse the effects of the Trump Administration’s announced withdrawal from the $100 billion agreement.

Countries are concerned about the problems posed by climate change. It is believed trans-boundary changes to the environment pose incalculable risks to human populations, economies, and ecosystems. In an effort to reduce these risks some observers believe industrialized countries must help lower-income countries mitigate climate change. International financial assistance has been the principle avenue by which higher-income countries support environmental issues in lower-income countries.

The question for all U.S. agriculture is the various ways it will be called upon to reduce this risk, and to provide funds to alleged corrupt countries around the world.

A version of this commentary originally appeared in the online Farm Futures on November 10, 2020.  The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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