It is not only political and industry leaders who must show a united front in the face of Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement but also every citizen of the world.
Image Credit: Courtesy of UC Berkeley
Why is it happening ?
The fight for a global consensus regarding climate change has been long, with the first World Climate Conference taking place nearly 40 years ago. The Paris Agreement made history in 2015. As President Barack Obama remarked, it may one day be viewed as the moment “we finally decided to save the planet”.
This cooperative attitude from the US was short lived. Donald Trump’s presidency reversed the efforts of his predecessor, announcing plans to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement as soon as it is legally possible. However, this has not discouraged the other members of the agreement. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council stated that “strong transatlantic ties are far more important and durable than the latest unfortunate decisions of the new administration”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel similarly declared that Mr Trump “can’t and won’t stop all those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet”. These are strong displays of solidarity for a common cause.
Why does it matter?
The Paris Agreement was historic for a reason: Article 2 of the Agreement set an ambitious goal of keeping the overall increase in global temperature well below 2°C, if not 1.5°C. Only 2 countries did not commit to it, Syria and Nicaragua. The US is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide and in a worst case scenario their withdrawal could add 0.3°C to global temperature by the end of the century—its withdrawal affects the planet as a whole. Environmental consequences are experienced worldwide regardless of whether a country signs a political agreement or not.
Mr Trump allegedly disputed the existence of global warming and made clear efforts to prevent change to the way we treat our environment. If a conscientious and concerned global population does not condemn him, these actions will set a precedent for other leaders who harbour similar views. It is imperative that a united global force addresses the problem of climate change, regardless of the current American President’s destructive actions. Otherwise we would go against a founding principle of the agreement to recognise "the need for an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge".
What can you do about it?
As a 2016 poll from Yale suggested, the majority of registered U.S. voters supported the deal. Americans, as well as the rest of the world, should continue to work to protect the planet, despite Mr Trump’s decision. More than 180 mayors and 10 senators across the US have already pledged their commitment to the Paris accord in the aftermath, but this is not enough.
First, it is vital, wherever in the world one may live, to contact representatives on all levels, expressing support and dedication to addressing climate change. Pushing for legislation that welcomes a clean energy economy will both help the environment and create jobs. Second, research the large companies which condemned Mr Trump’s exit from the agreement, and support them with money rather than companies who are turning a blind eye.
Lastly, speak up! There are numerous environmental campaigns to support, for example by signing Greenpeace’s ‘There is no Planet B’ petition, or this change.org petition that specifically addresses Mr Trump’s attitude. If this is something you feel passionate about, discuss it with peers, colleagues and friends, to create a dialogue that will give this issue the platform it deserves.
Emma Howlett briefs from Oxford, UK. She is a candidate for a Bachelor of Arts in Ancient and Modern History. Connect with her via LinkedIn.