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The United States returns to the Paris Agreement and more environmental news

These are the most relevant environmental news of the week .

Joe Biden signing a document

These were the most relevant environmental news of this week. / Photo: IG-POTUS

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Estados Unidos retorna al Acuerdo de París y más noticias medioambientales

Joe Biden decrees the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement

This Wednesday, January 20, Joe Biden positioned himself as the 46th president of the United States. That same day, he signed 17 of the 53 executive orders that he had prepared to take office. Among them was the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement, it should be remembered that the previous president, Donald Trump, decided to withdraw the country considering the agreement as "unfair and unilateral".

With this as one of his first actions, the Democrat affirms his commitment to combat climate change, a commitment that he also made very clear in his presidential campaign, reiterating that one of his priorities is to preserve natural resources.

"We are going to fight climate change like we have never done before," Biden said hours after taking office.

After the announcement of the return to the Agreement, the president must have 30 days to make modifications. In addition, Biden is seeking to reach out to the leaders of the 100 most polluting countries to duplicate their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

This news was well received by UN Secretary General António Guterres, who warmly welcomed the country to the Paris Agreement.

Also read: What change is coming for the environment with Joe Biden as president of the United States

Emmanuel Macron seeks to introduce the environment into the Constitution

The French president, known for his constant fight against climate change, has been working on a project since last year to introduce the environment into the Constitution of France.

This Wednesday, January 20, the Council of Ministers adopted the proposal, which Macron seeks to promote through a referendum, that is, by submitting the amendment to the popular vote. Macron specifically wants a mention in the Constitution of "biodiversity, the environment and the fight against global warming." According to Gabriel Attal, spokesman for the French Government, this “is an affirmation, at the top of our pyramid of norms, of the will to protect the environment [...]. This is an advance that the President of the Republic has described as a 'structuring' for our public policies ”.

This proposal was received by the French president at the Citizen's Climate Convention that, between October 2019 and June 2020, brought together 150 citizens in order to “define a series of measures to achieve a reduction of at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in a spirit of social justice ”

Mask waste is a risk to animals, PETA warns

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of masks have been manufactured, used and discarded. This has had a direct impact on some animal species, which have been directly affected by their disposal. PETA Asia activist Ashely Fruno recently stated that "masks are not going away anytime soon, and when we throw them away, they can threaten the environment and the animals that share our planet."

Also, according to data from the environmental organization OceansAsia, more than 1.5 billion masks ended up in the world's oceans at the end of last year, which meant an additional 6,200 tons of plastic waste. As a consequence, throughout the world animal protection organizations have found terrestrial animals eating the masks, with the danger of suffocation; birds with elastics entangled in their limbs that eventually become immobile and dead marine animals with masks in their stomachs. 

As a result, environmental organizations around the globe are demanding that governments impose fines on those who irresponsibly dispose of masks and also encourage the use of reusable masks rather than disposable ones.