US rejoins Paris Agreement showing clear commitment to green recovery

The International Hydropower Association welcomes the new US administration’s decision to recommit to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In a statement, Eddie Rich, Chief Executive of IHA, said: “What a great signal to see President Biden, in one of his first acts, return to the Paris Agreement. This shows this administration's clear commitment to tackling climate change, prioritising the energy transition and driving a green recovery.  

The new administration is expected to move ambitiously to generate more clean electricity, including from hydropower, to achieve the goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.  

The US Department of Energy co-founded and jointly chairs the International Forum on Pumped Storage Hydropower, a government-led multi-stakeholder platform organised by IHA to shape and enhance the role of pumped storage in future power systems.

“IHA looks forward to working with the Biden administration on co-chairing the International Forum on Pumped Storage Hydropower as well as other efforts to lift the role of sustainable hydropower in delivering these aspirations,” Mr Rich added.

As well as investing in solar systems and wind turbines, President Biden has committed to continue to “leverage the carbon-pollution free energy provided by hydropower”, while ensuring facilities meet "robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice".

According to IHA’s 2020 Hydropower Status Report, total US hydropower capacity, including pumped storage, reached 103 GW in 2019. While most recent growth comes from small projects, the Department of Energy estimates there is nearly 50 GW of untapped hydropower potential; including 30 GW of pumped storage and 5 GW of development at nonpowered dams.  

Most US states are setting carbon-free goals over the next 30 years and relying on hydropower to help achieve these.

In October 2020, a landmark collaboration agreement was concluded between environmental groups and the US hydropower sector, which recognises the need to tackle climate change with renewable energy while also preserving healthy rivers. The joint statement was issued by twelve organisations including the US National Hydropower Association, the Hydropower Foundation, American Rivers and WWF, among other groups.

On 3 February 2021, IHA will host a high-level panel on ‘sustainable hydropower and the green recovery’ with former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, International Energy Agency (IEA) Dr Fatih Birol, and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Director General Francesco La Camera. Register online.

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