World President Biden’s international restoration project has begun
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President Joe Biden’shas begun.
Biden, in the first hours of his presidency, rejoined theand recommited to the , fulfilling he made .
He is also taking the first steps toward achieving hisabroad.
But these day one orders are the easy part. Now Biden begins the difficult task of rebuilding trust among allies, and trying to prove America can be a reliable partner.
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Over the past, other , and other powers, like China, by the United States in international institutions.
Biden also confronts public health, economic, and racial reckoning, along with the fallout from the startling attack on US democracy earlier this month.
The world watched the Capitol siege on January 6, and witnessed a. It framed Washington as far from a stable partner. But with Biden’s announcements on the Paris deal and the WHO, the US is showing that it’s trying to start somewhere.
The US’s recommitment to Paris will give the deal its first real chance
Trump, fulfilling a campaign promise of his own. The nonbinding treaty sets standards for emission reductions in an effort to keep the global temperature from warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius. .
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Based on the terms of the treaty, the US couldn’t officially step away from the deal until November 2020, though the Trump administrationlast year.
Biden is reversing that, and it’s a fairly easy reentry: The president writes a letter saying the US wants to get back in, and in 30 days, they will again become party to the treaty.
“That’s obviously, in and of itself, an important threshold, because it brings us back into the single collective international body dedicated to meeting the climate challenge,” Peter Ogden, vice president for energy, climate, and the environment at the United Nations Foundation, told me.
Ogden said the US will ultimately have to recalibrate. That will involve domestic policy considerations, as it requires states, localities, and, most of all, businesses to achieve the benchmarks for curbing emissions.
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Those targets are also incredibly important, Ogden said. “It will be both a practical guide for other countries who are looking to understand the kind of actions that the United States intends to move forward with,” he said. “But it’s also going to be an important guide for other countries, who are also looking at their own targets.”
Biden; he appointed John Kerry, former secretary of state, as the administration’s The administration is reportedly . Rejoining Paris is, symbolically, the first act of Biden’s promise to make climate considerations a big part of his policy priorities.
More broadly, on climate change, the Biden administration can set the example of global leadership it wants, and collaborate with other partners, such as, who have continued to press forward with climate targets. The US, historically, , and a real commitment to from the US on climate change, as Ogden said, would serve as Paris accord’s first real test.
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The Biden administration will recommit to the WHO — and global vaccine distribution
Alongside the global threat of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic is still raging. Containing the pandemic, and undertaking a global vaccination campaign, will require unprecedented resources and coordination.
Which is why Biden’s second step — a recommitment to the WHO — is also critically important, for fighting the pandemic and for other global health priorities.
The Trump administration blamed the WHO for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and accused the agency of being a “.” In July, the administration sent the World Health Organization , which would have taken the US out of the body a year later, in 2021.
Biden is rescinding that withdrawal,, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, to attend the agency’s annual executive meeting this week.
But as, a United Nations expert and professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, told me last year, the US’s reengagement with the WHO is not as simple as it sounds.
The Trump administration’s threat of withdrawal severely threatened the overall funding of the WHO, which forced other countries, like China, to pledge to make up for the shortfalls. The Trump administration also tried to gum up existing cooperation with the WHO,and US officials this fall.
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As Lyon said, the US is going to have to retool its relationship with the organization; it can’t just expect things to revert to back to the pre-Trump era. Other countries, specifically China, have filled the void left behind by the United States.
“They’ve had a seat at the table, they’re writing the checks, they are able to shape and frame and spin what the priorities are,”. “The US is late to the game on this. It’s very difficult for the US to just kind of waltz back in and say, ‘We’re back.’”
The Biden administration is taking another step to show it wants to work with other countries on global health. On Tuesday, Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, said during his confirmation hearing that the United States would join, the WHO-linked initiative to deliver and equitably distribute the Covid-19 vaccine worldwide, specifically to lower-income countries. China joined the initiative at the last minute last year, and have made financial commitments to the program. Russia and the US were the two big holdouts, until now.
So getting back into these global bodies is a good first step. It does send a powerful message to America’s allies and adversaries alike. But it’s also impossible for the United States to just turn back the clock.
Biden has said “America is back.” But what is it coming back to?
Blinken also said at his confirmation hearing Tuesday that “humility and confidence” should be the flip sides of American leadership.
That humility should include a very obvious recognization that the world has changed in the past four years, and the multilateral institutions like the WHO have changed with them. Biden’s administration also needs to sell this vision at home, learning the lessons from the Trump years that it’s not a given that the US will be — or that the American public will want to see it be — the one setting the international agenda.
The recommitment to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization are, symbolically, the Biden team’s first olive branches to the rest of the world.— if the world will have it.
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