U.S. President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders to launch his administration Wednesday, that reverse course on climate change and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Climate-change leaders and campaigners worldwide 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 new president signed the orders just hours after taking the oath of office at the Capitol.
“Some of the 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.
The return to the Paris Agreement, which the United States joined when Barack Obama was president and Biden vice president, was lauded by other leaders.
“Welcome back,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.
“We are together. We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also welcomed the move, saying it was a large step for the leading producers of global carbon pollution.
“But there is a very long way to go,” he said in a statement.
“We look forward to the leadership of United States in accelerating global efforts towards net-zero” emissions, he said, calling for “ambitious” new targets for 2030 and expanded climate finance.
The new president also halted the United States’ exit from the World Health Organization.
In mid-April last year, as the coronavirus pandemic was spreading across the globe, then-president Donald Trump cut off U.S. funding to the WHO, saying it was “virtually controlled by China.” He then went further, triggering the process to pull the U.S. completely out of the organization. The withdrawal was due to go into effect in July, but President Biden’s order will cancel it.
“I am committed to working closely with President Biden and other leaders to overcome the climate emergency, and recover better from COVID-19,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement welcoming the actions.
Globally, there are more than 96 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 2 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the data.
Biden said his actions on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed 400,000 American lives, would help change the course of the crisis.