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President takes aim at climate and immigration


Biden began signing documents immediately after inauguration

Biden began signing documents immediately after inauguration

Biden began signing documents immediately after inauguration

In one of his first official acts, President Joe Biden was yesterday returning the US to the worldwide fight to slow global warming and launched a series of climate-friendly efforts.

"A cry for survival comes from the planet itself," Mr Biden said in his inaugural address.

"A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear now."

Mr Biden was signing an executive order rejoining the Paris climate accord within hours of taking the oath of office, fulfilling a campaign pledge.

The move undoes the US withdrawal ordered by predecessor Donald Trump, who belittled the science behind climate efforts, loosened regulations on heat-trapping oil, gas and coal emissions, and spurred oil and gas leasing in the pristine Arctic tundra and other wilderness.

The Paris accord commits 195 countries and other signatories to come up with a goal to reduce carbon pollution and monitor and report their fossil fuel emissions.

The US is the world's second biggest carbon emitter after China.

Mr Biden will also use executive orders to start undoing other climate roll-backs.

He will order a temporary moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in what had been virgin Arctic wilderness, direct federal agencies to start looking at tougher mileage standards and other emission limits again, and revoke Mr Trump's approval for the Keystone XL oil and gas pipeline.

After Mr Biden notifies the UN by letter of his intention to rejoin the Paris accord, it would become effective in 30 days, UN spokesman Alex Saier said.

Rejoining the Paris accord could put the US on track to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 40pc to 50pc by 2030, experts said.

Also within hours of being sworn in, Mr Biden sent an immigration bill to lawmakers that would open a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the US unlawfully, a sharp contrast to the policies of Mr Trump.

Mr Biden was signing 15 executive actions last night, at least six of those dealing with immigration, making the issue a major focus of the Democratic president's first day in office.

The actions included immediately lifting a travel ban on more than a dozen Muslim-majority and African countries, halting construction of the US-Mexico border wall and reversing an order preventing migrants who are in the US illegally from being counted when US congressional voting districts are next redrawn.

Mr Biden will also sign a memorandum directing the Department of Homeland Security and the US attorney general to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, which protects migrants who entered the country as children from deportation, and reverse Mr Trump's executive order calling for stricter interior immigration enforcement.

The new president is also expected to end a Trump programme called the Migrant Protection Protocols.

The programme has left tens of thousands of asylum seekers waiting in Mexico for US court hearings, with many stuck for months in tent camps near the US border.

Taken together, the actions show Mr Biden is beginning his presidency with a sharp focus on immigration, just as Mr Trump kept the issue at the centre of his policy agenda until the last days of his administration.