Make no mistake, returning to the Paris climate agreement is not mere symbolism – it is an act cloaked in powerful, political significance.
While re-joining the pact was actually quite simple – the signing of a letter on Biden’s first day in office and then a 30-day wait which ends on Friday – there could be no more profound signal of intention from this incoming administration.
Coming back to Paris means the US will once again have to follow the rules.
Those rules mean that sometime this year the US will need to improve on their previous commitment to cut carbon made in the French capital in 2015.
This new target, possibly for 2030, and President Biden’s commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, will be the guide rails for the US economy and society for decades to come.
Coming back to Paris really means it is no longer “America First”.
It signals that the spirit of that awkward word, “multilateralism”, is alive and well and living once again in the White House.
But the US also needs to tread carefully and remember that the world’s perspective on climate change has moved on since the Obama days.
“I think the United States needs to recognise that the world is very different than it was four years ago and enter in, in partnership and humility, not coming back in telling everybody what they should be doing,