U.S. must go ‘well beyond Paris commitments’ to avert catastrophic global warming, warns scientist

  • The U.S. officially rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change. 
  • “We have to ratchet up the commitments now if we are to stay on course to averting a catastrophic three degree Fahrenheit warming,” said scientist Michael Mann.
  • “The world has moved on from American leadership on climate and will be skeptical of our commitment to stay engaged,” said Joel Rubin, a former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Obama-Biden Administration.

Scientist Michael Mann argued that the United States must go "well beyond those Paris commitments" as President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement Friday. 

"We have to ratchet up the commitments now if we are to stay on course to averting a catastrophic three degree Fahrenheit warming," said Mann, the author of "The New Climate War," during a Friday evening interview on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith." "We have to increase our commitments and the other countries of the world have to do that."

The move to reenter the Paris Climate Agreement was a departure from the Trump administration's climate policy. In 2017 former President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement. He formally notified the United Nations in 2019, and the U.S. left the Paris Agreement the following year after a waiting period. Mann explained that during that time, the United States "lost four years of opportunity here to address the greatest challenge that we face."  

Joel Rubin, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama-Biden Administration, told "The News with Shepard Smith" that there's now a higher bar set for America's return to the climate battle on the world stage.  

"The world has moved on from American leadership on climate and will be skeptical of our commitment to stay engaged," said the national security expert who worked on both climate change policy and renewable energy programs in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "This has always been the albatross around the American role on multilateral climate diplomacy — a lack of strong legislative support for it."

Domestically, the crisis in Texas exposed how vulnerable power grids can be during extreme weather, which experts warn could get worse because of climate change. Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall even underscored the danger of climate change during a White House press briefing on Thursday. 

"The extreme weather events that we're experiencing this week across the central, southern, and now the eastern United States do yet again demonstrate to us that climate change is real and it's happening now, and we're not adequately prepared for it," Sherwood-Randall said.

Mann explained that climate change could be a factor contributing to the anguish in Texas amid freezing temperatures. 

"There is some evidence that climate change might be leading to an increase in the incidents of these sorts of events, but there is no question that if we look collectively at all of the extreme weather events we've seen in recent years, unprecedented heat waves and droughts and wildfires and super storms, we can see the fingerprint of human influence on our climate in these devastating events," Mann said. 

Rubin said that Biden's next task is to pass legislation to create meaningful change in reducing America's carbon footprint, so what happened in Texas, doesn't happen more frequently. 

"Doing this would not only be a strong signal to the world that we're serious, it would also finally break the Gordian knot that has undercut America's credibility on the global stage when it comes to fighting climate change," said Rubin. "That's a necessary political battle. It's going to be brutal, but the alternative of not having it is much much worse."

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