The United States rejoined the Paris climate accord on Friday as President Joe Biden seeks to once again put his country at the forefront of international efforts to tackle climate change, a move welcomed by countries including its close ally Japan.
"We are reengaging the world on all fronts...And further out, we (are) very much looking forward to working with the United Kingdom and other nations around the world to make COP26 a success," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, referring to the next major U.N. climate conference to be hosted by Britain in November.
The United States, the world's second-largest carbon dioxide emitter after China, formally withdrew from the accord last year following then President Donald Trump's announcement of a pullout in June 2017.
But Biden, who was vice president in the Barack Obama administration when the Paris deal was reached in 2015, pledged during his election campaign that he would reverse course. On Jan. 20, his first day in office, he signed a document to return to the agreement, paving the way for the U.S. re-entry 30 days later.
"The Paris Agreement is an unprecedented framework for global action. We know because we helped design it and make it a reality," said Blinken, who was deputy secretary of state under the Obama administration.
Biden has vowed to put climate-crisis considerations at the center of foreign policy, while announcing a plan to host a climate summit on April 22 to call on leaders of major emitters to join the United States in making ambitious national pledges to cut emissions.
Japan welcomed the U.S. return to the U.N. pact, saying Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government wants to step up coordination with the Biden administration in leading efforts to curb global warming.
To that effect, Suga, who has vowed to reduce Japan's net emissions to zero by 2050, plans to attend the U.S.-led summit of major emitters, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters Friday in Tokyo.
Britain also hailed the move through its official Twitter account as this year's holder of the Group of Seven presidency, saying, "Welcome back."
The United States plans to announce its own emissions-reduction target, known as the nationally determined contribution, before the April climate summit, according to an administration official.
To accelerate the introduction of clean energy in the U.S. economy, Biden has proposed to make electricity production carbon-free by 2035 and to seek to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
Trump had criticized the accord on the grounds it would impose "draconian financial and economic burdens" on American businesses, and said it was "very unfair" to the United States whereas China would be allowed to increase its emissions for years to come and build many coal plants.
Member parties were only allowed to exit the pact three years after the date it entered into force in late 2016, and the U.S. withdrawal took effect one year after its official notice in November 2019.
The Paris Agreement, a framework to involve every country in reining in greenhouse gas emissions, aims to keep rising global temperatures to "well below" 2 C higher than preindustrial levels, so as to limit the occurrence of droughts, floods, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other results of global warming.
Many countries have aimed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with Japan joining the trend by announcing a similar goal in October. China also unveiled its plan to become carbon-neutral by 2060 at the U.N. General Assembly in September.
The Paris accord is a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which had required only developed countries to reduce their emissions of gases blamed for global warming. The United States was not a member of the protocol because it did not ratify it.