Trump Leaves Paris Climate Agreement
In Paris on December 12, 2015, 196 nations came together on an agreement that would make concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adopt clean energy, and work together on coping with the inevitable future effects of climate change on the world. On June 1, President Trump announced that the United States would be leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, citing his “solemn duty to protect America and its citizens.” However, many scientists say that Trump’s choice puts the future of the world at risk.
The historic Paris Climate Agreement aims to prevent this century’s global temperature from rising above pre-industrial levels, no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The United States pledged to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund as well as cut emissions to 26-28% below 2005’s levels before 2025.
While there is no official penalty to the United States for withdrawing, there will be negative consequences nevertheless. The United States is currently the second-greatest producer of carbon-dioxide emissions in the world. Carbon-dioxide emissions are what cause the “greenhouse effect”; huge amounts of carbon-dioxide trapped in the atmosphere are heated by the sun, in turn insulating and heating the Earth. As a result, global temperature slowly rises, causing irregular weather and flooding in some places.
Other countries have expressed concern over the viability of the Paris Climate Agreement without U.S. support. This is, after all, literally a global issue. Japan’s environment minister Koichi Yamamoto said during a conference, “I can’t help but feel concerned whether the Paris treaty without U.S. participation would be effective.” China and India, first and third greatest polluters respectively, remain a part of the agreement and have promised to uphold their promises.
In many ways, the agreement was designed with the United States especially in mind. For example, titling it an agreement rather than a treaty allowed for Obama to enter the United States into the agreement without putting it to a Senate vote. The symbolism of now leaving the agreement may strain diplomatic relations with other countries. Many world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni have expressed their commitment to the plans laid out by the agreement.
President Trump justified his decision saying, “The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers…and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” While some jobs will be lost in the fossil fuel industries, the long-term effect of shunning clean energy may hurt the U.S. much more. According to the New York Times, many scientists and economists believe that as the rest of the world begins to implement green energy, the U.S. will lose out on jobs and innovations in the renewable energy field.
In response, governors of the states of California, New York, and Washington have formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue supporting the Paris agreement, even “in the absence of leadership from Washington.” Among civilians, Trump’s decision to leave the agreement has also been unpopular. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that of a random sample of 527 Americans, 59% oppose leaving the agreement while 29% support this choice.
As you probably know, this isn’t the first time that President Trump has made a decision against popular opinion. His administration’s attempted healthcare bill, travel ban, and some of his nominees for different positions of power are among many very controversial decisions that he’s made without support from a loud majority of Americans. This time, even several of his own advisors opposed leaving the agreement. In addition, the agreement had been supported by many large companies, even including Exxonmobil, the largest oil company in the world. With science, big businesses, his own advisors, and Americans’ vocal protest against him, it’s hard not to wonder; Who is he making this decision for?