Biden moves to end Muslim travel ban, rejoin Paris climate accord and bolster war on Covid-19
21 January 2021
President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders, including the lifting of Donald Trump’s ban on travel from some Muslim countries, reversing the former president’s decision to exit the Paris climate accord and restoring America’s membership of the World Health Organisation.
The orders also include a directive to halt construction of the wall on the US-Mexico border, and efforts to expand diversity and equality for minority groups in the federal government.
The orders, issued just hours after he was sworn in as president, are aimed at reversing decisions by his predecessor Donald Trump and set the stage for policy reversals by the Biden administration.
Biden said his administration is decided on bolstering environmental protections and strengthening the fight against Covid-19.
"Some of things we are going to be doing are going to be bold," he said in the Oval Office.
"We are going to combat climate change in a way we have not done so far," Biden said of returning to the Paris agreement, a treaty signed by most nations in 2016 to limit global warming.
He said his actions on the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed 400,000 American lives, would help change the course of the crisis.
The United States formally left the Paris accord last year after President Trump cast aspersions on climate science and asserted that the accord was an economic burden.
President Biden issued an executive order on Wednesday to bring the US, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, back into the global treaty committing nearly 200 countries to halt rising temperatures quickly enough to avoid disastrous climate change.
“I'm proud of today's executive actions, and I'm going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people. .A long way to go. These are just executive actions. They are .important, but we're going to need legislation for a lot of the things we're going to do,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office of the White House as he signed the first lot of executive orders on Wednesday.
Biden has said he wants to put the United States on track to net zero emissions by 2050 but has yet to detail what regulatory tools he intends to use to achieve that goal.
“One of the core challenges for the administration is going to be reframing this as opportunity for green growth, for jobs – for the kind of things we’ve seen in Europe, which has managed to significantly grow its economy while reducing its carbon emissions,” said Kelley Kizzier, a former European Union climate negotiator, now at the non-profit Environmental Defence Fund.
Climate-change leaders welcomed President Biden’s move to rejoin the 2015 Paris Agreement but said Washington must also cut emissions and use its influence to encourage other countries to do the same.
The president said he will be signing a number of executive orders over the next several days of the week.