Regulatory Tracker

Paris Climate Agreement

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Quick Take

On Dec. 13, 2023, at COP28 in Dubai, the US joined 200 other nations in committing to “transition[] away from fossil fuels in energy systems . . . so as to achieve net zero by 2050.” Read the agreement here.

Why it Matters

The United States is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world and the largest historical emitter. America’s approval of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016 signaled our intention to cooperate globally in reducing our emissions and helping others reduce theirs. Currently, 196 nations have formally adopted the agreement. Under the Trump administration, the US withdrew from the Paris Agreement on Nov. 4, 2020. However, the Biden Administration rejoined on February 19, 2021, and the US has committed to achieving a 50 to 52 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

Current Status

On inauguration day in Jan. 2021, President Biden formally accepted the Agreement, initiating the process to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Feb. 19, 2021. At the 28th conference of the parties (COP28), held in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 13, 2023, 200 nations including the US signed an agreement to “transition[] away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner . . . so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”

Timeline of Events

obama administration
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April 22, 2016 The United States signs the Paris Climate Agreement treaty and commits to reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent compared with 2005 levels.

Nov. 4, 2016 The Paris Climate Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance enters into force now that at least 55 nations have formally joined by submitting a plan for addressing climate change.

Trump administration
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June 1, 2017 President Trump announces the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Feb. 1, 2018 The European Commission announces the European Union will not sign trade agreements with countries that did not ratify the Paris Climate Agreement.

Nov. 4, 2019 The Trump Administration formally notifies the United Nations that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The withdrawal process will take one year, making withdrawal effective on Nov. 4, 2020.

Nov. 4, 2020 The United States officially withdraws from the Paris Agreement.

Biden administration
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Jan. 20, 2021 President Biden formally accepts the Agreement, initiating the process to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

Jan. 27, 2021 President Biden, in EO 14008, instructs the government to immediately begin developing a new Nationally Determined Contribution to be released at a Leaders’ Climate Summit being planned for April.

Feb. 19, 2021 The US rejoins the Paris Agreement.

April 22, 2021 The US hosts a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate and the Biden administration commits to reducing US greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent in 2030 from 2005 levels.

Oct. 14, 2021 President Biden announces a team of 12 cabinet members and high-level officials that will attend the COP26 talks, including White House climate advisor Gina McCarthy, US climate envoy John Kerry, EPA administrator Michael Regan, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

Nov. 7, 2021 In the first week of the COP26 conference, the US delegation takes a number of different climate actions including making commitments to: 

  • Reduce methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2020 levels. As part of the US’s commitment, EPA issues a proposed rule to regulate both new and existing sources of methane in the oil and gas sector. (For more on the proposed rule, see EELP’s Regulatory Tracker page). Over 100 countries joined the pledge; China, India, and Russia did not. 
  • Provide $3 billion in climate adaptation financing for developing nations per year starting in FY 2024 as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) initiative. The funding will need to be approved by Congress.
  • End and reverse deforestation worldwide by 2030. Of the $19.2 billion pledged in private and public funds, the US commits $9 billion to conserve and restore forests. The signing countries together represent roughly 85% of the world’s forest-covered land, including Brazil, Russia, Canada, and Indonesia. 

The US does not join 40 other nations that commit to phase out coal, including India and China. 

Nov. 10, 2021 The US and China announce a joint agreement to “enhance ambition” on climate change, with China committing to reduce methane emissions for the first time. However, the agreement does not include an emissions ceiling or timetable for China to reduce its emissions.

Nov. 13, 2021 COP26 concludes in Glasgow after two weeks. The negotiations focused on adaptation, mitigation, and global financing. Additional outcomes include:

  • 151 countries, including the US, submit new nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The UN calculates that these plans put the world on track for 2.5 degrees C of warming by the end of the century. The Glasgow decision calls on countries to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 targets by the end of 2022 to align them with the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5 degrees C of warming.
  • The Parties recommit to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance from developed to developing nations, starting in 2023. Countries did not meet the existing target to provide this money starting in 2020.
  • Parties agree on a rulebook to govern “Article 6” international carbon markets, including norms to prevent double counting of emission reductions. However, the rules also allow the carry-over of old carbon credits generated since 2013 under the Kyoto Protocol. For more on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, see additional resources here.
  • Parties agree to an Enhanced Transparency Framework to account for and report targets and emissions.

Aug, 16, 2022 President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law, which will move the US closer to its emissions reduction goals under the Paris Agreement. The bill is designed to spur investment in clean energy through tax incentives, grants, and other funding mechanisms. The law will drive investment of nearly $369 billion in clean energy and climate priorities, which in turn is projected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 (relative to 30 percent under current policy).

Nov. 6, 2022 The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change convenes for its 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Nov. 11, 2022 President Biden addresses the Conference, affirming his administration’s commitment to achieving its emissions reduction goal of a 50 to 52 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2030, as set forth in the Paris Agreement.  

Nov. 11, 2022 The Biden Administration announces a number of new climate policies, including increased financial contributions to global adaptation and resilience efforts, updated domestic standards for regulating methane emissions, and a proposed rule that would require federal government suppliers to publicly disclose their climate-related risks.  

Nov. 20, 2022 Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached an agreement to form a fund to compensate vulnerable countries for the adverse effects of climate change, capping off more than two weeks of negotiations at COP27. The deal, which does little to facilitate emissions reduction, provides for the creation of a 24-country committee that will be tasked with determining the fund’s form and how money will be gathered and allocated. The United States and other developed countries had for decades opposed such a loss and damage deal.

April 20, 2023 While convening the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, President Biden encourages world leaders to adopt targets for 2030 emissions levels consistent with a 1.5 °C warming goal. Biden announces a $1 billion U.S. commitment to the Green Climate Fund, which finances renewable energy and climate resilience projects in developing countries; a “Carbon Management Challenge” urging nations to put forward “concrete commitments” relating to carbon capture and removal technology ahead of COP28; a “Methane Finance Sprint” aimed to raise funds for developing countries’ methane emissions reduction; and a plan to request funding from Congress to prevent deforestation in the Amazon.

June 23, 2023 The Summit for a New Global Financing Pact is hosted in Paris and discussions include climate finance for developing countries. 

Nov. 18, 2023 The Article 6.4 Supervisory Body, the United Nations working group tasked to operationalize a UN carbon crediting mechanism under the Paris Agreement, agreed on a set of recommendations. The recommendations are intentionally broad and technology-neutral, stating that “projects that remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and destroy or durably store them” will generate carbon credits. The eventual goal is to facilitate international trade in carbon removal credits. The recommendations will next go to the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) for approval at COP28, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, 2023 in Dubai.

Dec. 13, 2023 200 countries including the US signed an agreement at the climate summit in Dubai (COP28) to “transition[] away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner . . . so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” The agreement also calls for tripling global renewable energy capacity by 2030, and accelerating the use of carbon capture and storage technologies. To read the latest version of the draft agreement and supporting documents, click here. Additional US commitments at COP28 include: