Local MP Elizabeth May expects the United States will “rapidly” rejoin an international agreement designed to climate change following the U.S. election results on Saturday.
“I am so relieved in so many ways, but particularly to know the US will rapidly re-join the Paris Agreement,” she said in a message to local Greens in Saanich-Gulf Islands.
Democrat Joe Biden became president-elect Saturday after passing the minimal threshold of 270 votes in the electoral college, ahead of incumbent Republican Donald Trump, who withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. It creates a framework for countries to limit the global average temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius with an eye toward limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The United States formally withdrew from the agreement on Nov. 4, 2020, one day after general election day.
May said Biden will not need congressional approval to rejoin, just as Trump did not require such support for the initial withdrawal.
May also predicts that local environmental issues will gain more currency in a Biden administration with the rumoured appointment of Washington Governor Jay Inslee as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, with May calling Inslee “a champion” of protecting Southern Resident Orcas with “a way better track-record than our government.”
Under Inslee, Washington State has filed official opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline and increase in tanker traffic, as well as opposing the planned off-shore tests by the US Navy threatening marine life in the area, she said.
“So, Pacific Northwest issues may be receiving increasing attention with President Joe Biden and the climate crisis certainly will be,” she said.
Commenting more broadly on the election, May said “it is more than disturbing to realize 70 million human beings could think Donald Trump was their choice for four more years.”
While discussing the “bizarre” election system in the United States with its origins in the country’s slave-holding past, May drew a parallel between the winner-take-all nature of the American system and Canada’s first-past-the-post system.
“In Canada it applies riding by riding (or using our current terminology electoral district by electoral district),” she said. “In the US, it applies state by state with an additionally weird layer (the electoral college),” she said in expressing doubt about its abolishment, while offering various remedies and pointing to other aspects in need of reform.
This said, she used the occasion to repeat the familiar Green demand for electoral reform. “Back home, we also must get rid of (first past the post),” she said. “It continues to reward cynical politicians, like John Horgan with ‘false majority’ governments.”
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