On 2nd June 2017, the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, announced the US will be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. As other world leaders condemn his decision (and climate sceptics rejoice, boo), I wonder what this really means for planet Earth.
It’s difficult not to draw parallels between current affairs and climate disaster movies such as The Day After Tomorrow. It was watching that film that first made me realise what a huge deal climate change is – and whilst I’m not expecting any imminent killer hailstorms in Japan, or the whole of the UK to freeze to death – it’s easy to see similarities between the film and the world today. In the film, a climatologist is ignored by most U.N. officials (particularly the president) when he presents his environmental concerns – and it’s not until disaster strikes that these officials agree to take action. You’d hope in the real world it wouldn’t come to this – but despite warnings from scientists, world leaders and officials around the world – Donald Trump is determined to deny the science, risk the future of our planet (and indeed humanity) in order to ‘make America great again’.
I could dwell on what a disaster this is for global emissions targets, and panic that there’s no hope for Planet Earth – but the truth is, I really don’t believe that. Yes, the USA is 2nd highest annual contributer to global CO2 emissions (after China) and yes, this will undo years of negotiations – but this isn’t the end of our battle against climate change. Just because Donald Trump doesn’t want to take action, it doesn’t mean the rest of the US has to follow suit. And similarly, just because the US aren’t involved as a nation, it doesn’t mean the progress of other countries in the agreement will halter or be undone.
This news may not be the greatest, but what has emerged and occurred since his announcement has filled me with so much hope that as a world we can unite to protect our planet for future generations. Here’s some of the reasons why I’m hopeful:
- Senators and state officials across the US are vowing to continue with climate action, despite Trump’s annoucement! The governers of New York, California and Washington have formed a ‘US Climate Alliance‘ – vowing that they won’t let the U.S. back away from a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Emmanual Macron, President of France, issues statement reinforcing France’s commitment to climate change. He said “Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again,”
- France, Germany, Italy issue joint statement saying Paris climate accord can’t be renegotiated.
- China (highest annual contributer to global CO2 emissions) said before Trump’s announcement that they “will continue to resolutely be a protector and promoter of the global climate system process… We are willing to work with all sides to jointly protect the Paris agreement process… and promote global green, low carbon, sustainable development.”
- Russia (the ‘big bad evil’ according to many) expressed their support for the Paris Climate Agreement
194 countries are dedicated to tackling climate change and support the Paris Accord – only 3 countries don’t. Instead of dwelling on those foolish 3, we should focus on continuing to work together to reduce our global emissions, protect our planet, and preserve it for generations to come. Trump’s decision is a setback that none of us hoped for, but we must continue to look forward and remain hopeful.
Wherever you are in the world (even if you’re in the US) don’t let this stop you. Keep reducing your emissions. Keep developing new sustainable technologies. Keep fighting for renewables. Keep reducing your waste. Keep demanding better from businesses and politicians.
This is our fight – not just Donald Trump’s – and we don’t need his backing to make a difference.