Today marks the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden. It also marks the day the US has re-committed to the Paris Climate Accords signed in 2015. The administration also signed some executive orders today related to the environment and requested federal agencies start reviewing and reinstating environmental regulations. The US will need significant domestic policies implemented to follow through on the Paris agreement goals and it won’t all be possible through executive action. The US will need Congress to pass necessary climate-related legislation to effect even more substantial change.
This is a cause for celebration that the US is re-committing to tackling climate change on a global stage with the nearly 200 other nations in the Paris agreement that have vowed to reduce emissions to combat climate change. It is also a day to reflect on the fact that the US is the world’s largest contributor to global warming in history and that we therefore have a great need to work towards addressing climate change. Pope Francis discusses “differentiated responsibilities” in his encyclical Laudato’ Si and this is a call to the US government and US citizens to understand and act on our responsibility to combat climate change, protect our planet and care for those most vulnerable among us:
“52. […]The poorest areas and countries are less capable of adopting new models for reducing environmental impact because they lack the wherewithal to develop the necessary processes and to cover their costs. We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities. As the United States bishops have said, greater attention must be given to “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests” We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference.”
Let’s mark today with renewed hope and dedication to combatting climate change and caring for our common home.