As soon as President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election, congratulations poured in from several European politicians and officials desperate to work with him on climate change — likely in an effort to jump-start collaboration with the US on the Paris climate agreement.
Messages came in from two members of the European Parliament from Germany’s Green party. “Congrats Mr. President,” tweeted Rasmus Andersen while Jutta Paulus referred to Biden as “Mr. President-elect” and referenced the state of Pennsylvania, which Biden had just won, clinching the race.
Belgium’s recently appointed climate minister Zakia Khattabi also celebrated Biden’s win, though without directly naming him, tweeting: “Welcome back #America! See you at the next #Cop,” referring to the next UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021.
It’s no surprise that politicians concerned about climate change were among the first to publicly congratulate Biden.
The Trump administration withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement on November 4, becoming the only country in the world to do so. The announcement was especially troubling for the international community because the US is by far the all-time biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Without US involvement, achieving the Paris target of limiting global warming to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is unlikely. Pre-industrial levels refer to any period of time before the industrial revolution and is used as a baseline to mark the start of when burning fossil fuels began dramatically warming the planet.
Biden has vowed to recommit America to the Paris accord on the first day of his presidency as part of a platform that includes an ambitious climate plan.
Most European (and global) leaders haven’t weighed in on the election result, though, as major US networks have yet to call the race (Vox and its election partner, Decision Desk HQ, have). For example, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed confidence in the electoral process but declined to comment on the result, telling Sky News on November 6, “If I were a voter in America I don’t think I’d want anybody in another government commenting on my election.”
But what’s clear for now is that climate-focused leaders in Europe view Biden’s win as a cause for celebration — and they’re letting everyone know it.