Photo: Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. - Photo: 2021

UN Chief Welcomes the US Move to Re-Enter the Paris Accord as Biden and Harris Are Sworn in as New Leaders

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has warmly welcomed President Joe Biden’s “steps to re-enter the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and join the growing coalition of governments, cities, states, businesses and people taking ambitious action to confront the climate crisis”. Biden signed an executive order accepting the Paris accord “and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America” on January 20 after he and Vice President Kamal Harris were sworn in as America’s new leaders.

Guterres said in a statement: “Following last year’s Climate Ambition Summit, countries producing half of the global carbon pollution had committed to carbon neutrality. Today’s commitment by President Biden brings that figure to two-thirds. But there is a very long way to go. The climate crisis continues to worsen, and time is running out to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and build more climate-resilient societies that help to protect the most vulnerable.”

The UN Chief added that he looks forward to the U.S. leadership “in accelerating global efforts towards net zero, including by bringing forward a new nationally determined contribution with ambitious 2030 targets and climate finance” in advance of COP26 in Glasgow later this year.

Guterres expressed commitment to “working closely with President Biden and other leaders to overcome the climate emergency and recover better from COVID19”.

In his inaugural speech, President Biden called for a moment of silent prayer for the 400,000 U.S. lives lost to COVID-19 and their families. “We can right wrongs, work in good jobs, teach our children in safe schools, overcome the deadly COVID-19 virus and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all,” he told attendees.

Biden said: “This is America’s day. This is democracy day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Democracy is precious and fragile.”

The American story depends on all citizens and “we the people who seek a more perfect union,” he said, adding “because we still have far to go.”

“We will press forward with speed and urgency,” Biden said. He added that there is much to repair and restore in the nation, much to build and much to gain in these challenging times because of the pandemic, social and racial unrest, unemployment and a fragile economy. 

He denounced extremism, domestic terrorism and white supremacy as he stood on the Capitol’s west balcony, which was stormed by a violent mob two weeks ago. “We must confront — and we will defeat — these challenges to restore the soul and security of America,” Biden said.

He asked every American to join him in the cause of unifying the United States. “I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the common foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness, hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things,” he said.

Americans can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect and join forces to stop the shouting and lower the temperature, Biden said, adding that, otherwise, there is no peace or progress for our nation.

Biden said Americans must end the “uncivil war.” He said that can be done by opening our souls and leading by example.

“If we do that, I guarantee we will not fail. We have never ever, ever, ever failed in America. We’ve acted together. And so today, at this time, in this place, let’s start afresh — all of us. Listen to one another again. Show respect to one another. [Politics] doesn’t have to be a raging fire,” the new president said.

Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war, he added. “We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this.”

Biden said he will be a president for all people — not just for those who voted for him. He promised to fight as hard for the people who didn’t vote for him. “Every hour as we move forward, measure me and my heart,” he said. “If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America.”

What are the finest objects Americans love? he asked. “I think we know — opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor, and, yes, the truth … We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”

“Together, we will write an American story of hope, and not fear of unity, and not division of light or darkness. It will be a story of decency and dignity, love and healing [and] greatness and goodness,” Biden said.

Biden, Harris and the three former presidents left the U.S. Capitol following the inauguration and traveled to Arlington National Cemetery. After a lone bugler played “Taps,” the president and vice president lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Three former Presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – attended the inauguration. But former President Jimmy Carter could not attend. Biden said he had spoken by phone to the 96-year-old Carter. Donald Trump did not attend but outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did. [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 January 2021]

Photo: Collage of images from the White House.

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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