Why the United States Is Detrimental to Stopping Climate Change


The landmark signing of the Paris Climate Accord, December 12, 2015 via The New York Times

Almost one and a half years ago, on June first, 2017, President Donald Trump announced he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a worldwide treaty for countries who participate to make an effort to lower the carbon emissions, reduce the increasing temperature of the Earth to below two degrees Celcius each year by 2020, and to set individual carbon emission goals by 2030. The main purpose of this cause was to globally unite the nations of the world against the carbon emissions resulting in climate change and global warming. The Paris Agreement for climate change represented a step in the right direction for the world, as countries took measures to combat their carbon emissions for the sake of future generations of our planet. Withdrawing the United States, the most powerful country in the world, from the Paris Agreement impacts the future of the global campaign to reduce rising temperatures of the Earth.

Put into effect in November of 2016, two years ago, the treaty united one hundred ninety-five countries responsible for ninety-seven percent of carbon emissions, and required the countries who signed to hold themselves accountable for “nationally determined contributions” to reduce the carbon emissions and climate change. Since its effect, around the world countries have issued statements on their attempts to move farther away from the use of coal and fossil fuels for energy. Even oil-dependant Saudi Arabia declared its plans for an economy independent of oil refining by 2030. The Paris Agreement has made a significant impact on the world’s campaign to reduce carbon emissions to protect the planet, and is a monumental step of global cooperation to address this “clear and present danger,” as Al Gore would put it.

Since the announcement of the neoteric treaty, global super companies and celebrities around the world have committed to funding and investing millions into renewable energy. Apple has committed to having one hundred percent of their energy produced by renewable sources, as well as developing their own renewable energy cells to run factories and facilities. Participating countries have honored the agreement by commencing measures to combat climate change by reaching the peak of their carbon emissions by 2030, and renewable energy is a key part of this process. The Chinese government  has “built the world’s largest solar farm and established a mandatory cap on coal consumption. In January, the Chinese government canceled the construction of more than 100 coal-fired power plants, in an effort to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change,” according to Climate Nexus in 2018. All around the world, investment in renewable and clean energy has been on the rise.

During the convention and signing of the agreement, President Obama and his administration were in control of the country. China’s president Xi and himself, on behalf of their nations, entered the agreement formally in September of 2016. The United States and China together are responsible for forty percent of global emissions, according to President Obama’s announcement. These two world superpowers influenced the ratification of more than one hundred countries. Their example pushed private companies, global corporations, and investment organizations to take steps to cut their own carbon emissions. Unfortunately, this developing progress made by the two competing nations was halted less than a year later, as President Trump declared we would leave the treaty, joining the likes of Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries to not ratify the agreement.

So why is Trump’s decision to pull us out of the Paris Agreement detrimental to the safety and future of generations to come? To answer this question, we must look at our nation as a whole, specifically our president. In 2009, Donald Trump featured in a Business Coalition urging President Obama to act on climate change, stating “if we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences to humanity and our planet.” But in three years he was a firm believer that global warming was a Chinese hoax in an effort to damage the United States economy. During his election campaign, he further bashed the climate change negotiations and after being elected, he hired Scott Pruitt, a man who didn’t even believe in global warming, as the director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

No one in the country is ignorant of Trump’s impulsive behavior, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that his campaign, as well as the majority of the Republican party has been funded by oil and gas companies. In the 2016 elections, “About one in three dollars donated to Republican hopefuls from mega-rich individuals came from people who owe their fortunes to fossil fuels – and who stand to lose the most in the fight against climate change,” according to The Guardian. Our own government was funded by oil and gas moguls who then used their influence to have officials deregulate the environmental restrictions enacted by the Obama administration. President Trump’s choices are based on who funds and supports him, and by pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement due to “bribery” from the billion dollar oil and gas companies, our nation now stands as the most powerful climate change denier in the world.

The influence that the United States has in the world is astounding. By pulling out of the agreement, we set an example for hundreds of corporations, nations, and investors who saw our example as a reason to invest in renewables, partake in the treaty’s demands, and work to reduce carbon emissions. The chief impact that our country has by leaving the treaty is that our nation undermines the global cooperation of the Agreement. The most important part of the treaty is that it requires strong examples set by powerful countries. When the Paris Agreement was reached, the U.S, UK, and China were at the forefront of the movement. With China reluctant to take a leadership role, the UK dealing with its exit from the E.U, and the U.S leaving the agreement entirely, that leaves no leader in the fight against climate change. This causes more countries to likely leave the treaty or lightly enforce their emission regulations. Because the United States is no longer restricted by the confines of the treaty, our nation’s industries will continue to release carbon emissions damaging to the Earth. That leaves developing countries paying more in mitigation costs for their emissions, and without U.S financial help, it will be more difficult for them to reach the Agreement’s goal.

The United States set a dangerous precedent for nations all over the world by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The safety of the future generations and of the world were put at stake when President Trump made his decision to pull our nation out of the treaty. Because of his choice, the treaty’s worldwide acceptance cripples. The priorities of the Agreement are now more difficult and expensive to achieve without the United States’ backing, which will result in irreversible damage to the world’s ecosystems.

Nevertheless, there is still hope. Since Trump announced his decision to leave the treaty, United States based companies and corporations have honored the Agreement and continued their efforts to combat global warming and reduce emissions into the atmosphere. In fact, “Dozens of Fortune 500 companies, from tech giants like Apple and Google to Walmart and General Motors, are voluntarily investing billions of dollars in new wind and solar projects to power their operations or offset their conventional energy use, becoming a major driver of renewable electricity growth in the United States,” according to The New York Times. Even with our nation’s government in denial of this destructive problem, the American people are standing with the Paris Agreement, and against climate change.