By Griffith Jennings
On November 7, Syria announced its intent to sign the Paris Climate Accords, leaving the United States as the only country in the world outside of this agreement. We are in dire times.
The Accords is an agreement within the United Nation’s Convention on Climate Change, whose goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Under President Obama, the United States had pledged to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund in November 2014.
When the U.S. first pulled out of the Accords, it was joined by Nicaragua and Syria. However, both countries actually had valid excuses for their absences.
At the time, Nicaraguan leaders felt that the deal did not take further measures to keep carbon emissions at safe levels, and Syria had been involved in a civil war since 2011 and could not send representatives abroad to negotiate or sign the Accords. The United States’ only excuse was President Trump’s claim that the deal was bad for our economy.
However, the United States could have easily remained in the Accords without contributing the planned $3 billion, thus making President Trump’s excuse invalid.
Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords will have catastrophic consequences on the environment.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the U.S. emits the second highest amount of greenhouse gas behind China, a country with 1.379 billion people. Our population was 323.1 million people in 2016. The United States is also the biggest carbon polluter among developed countries (China is technically considered a “developing country”). A 2014 study by the EPA shows that as population grows, so do greenhouse gas emissions.
Since the United States is such a powerful and influential country, our going back on the Paris Climate Accords will significantly slow any progress the Accords have made.
In addition to slowing any progress the Accords could make, pulling out will not have a positive impact on our economy. Trump has consistently claimed that pulling out was a major accomplishment for our economy, but this is simply not true.
“While specific environmental regulations can sometimes lead to job losses, they also can and do lead to job gains,” Cary Coglianese, University of Pennsylvania professor of law and editor of the book “Does Regulation Kill Jobs?” said.
In addition, many major companies were in favor of the Paris Climate Accords, such as Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Walmart and Apple.
“Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.” Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and former Trump advisor, tweeted in June 2017.
However, pulling out of the Paris Accords is not the only blunder the Trump Administration has made in regards to the environment.
In October head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt announced the repeal of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. This plan was designed to lower the carbon dioxide emitted by American power generators, targeting power plants in 47 different states. The Clean Power Plan was Obama’s signature policy towards combating climate change. It was seen as one of the strongest actions towards global warming in United States history.
President Trump’s policies won’t just affect our environment. They have direct and grave consequences on everyday American life. An average loss of 11% of their Gross Domestic Product due to climate change and a greater increase of food, water, and air-borne diseases in our country are both inevitable. In addition, according to the EPA, the rising heat and poor air quality have led to a greater increase in mental health issues and stress.
Ultimately, there is no perfect solution to climate change. However, the current administration’s policies are not doing us any good.
“I’m not a believer in global warming. And I’m not a believer in man-made global warming,” President Trump said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt.
We need someone in the White House who believes in and understands the dangers of climate change so that they can lead our country into environmental prosperity. If not, then the damage done to our environment during the Trump presidency will be irreparable.