On June 1, President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, saying the agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.
So, what is the Paris Climate Agreement and what are its terms?
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website, the Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees C.
“The Paris Agreement requires all parties to put forward their best efforts through ‘nationally determined contributions’ and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead,” the UNFCC also states.
In light of Trump’s announcement, many celebrities — such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kal Penn — along with Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX; Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric; former President Barack Obama; and Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden all Tweeted their disappointment with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
In a June 5 Washington Post article written by Scott Clement and Brady Dennis and titled “Post-ABC poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose Trump scrapping Paris agreement,” 59 percent of Americans oppose Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
I agree with the people who Tweeted and the 59 percent of Americans opposed to Trump’s decision.
Withdrawing from the agreement was not the right decision for the United States.
The United States is right behind China as one of the top carbon dioxide emitters with 15 percent, according to 2014 global greenhouse gas emission data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The United States could have set an example for other countries in reducing its percentage — while making climate change history.
Whether or not you agree the Paris Climate Agreement was an ideal solution, for the first time, it brought world leaders from more than 190 countries together to tackle the environmental issue of climate change.
Biology professors Holly Morris, from Lehigh Carbon Community College, and John Cigliano, from Cedar Crest College, both say withdrawing from the Paris agreement was not the right decision.
“The Paris Climate Agreement, sponsored by the United Nations, is an attempt to get worldwide cooperation to reduce the speed at which global warming and climate change are occurring,” Morris said. “A global effort is essential. What nations do or don’t do will have a global effort.
“The Paris Accord is not a perfect agreement,” Morris continued. “‘Perfect’ would be impressive, indeed, when nearly 200 countries are involved in the discussion process. Instead, what it helps to create is a climate in which countries, companies and citizens around the world can come together in a common cause that affects us all.”
Cigliano described global warming as anthropogenic warming of the planet caused by release of excess greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere through human activity.
“The greenhouse effect is natural, but the increase in these gases is causing an unnatural warming of the planet because the heat that would have otherwise radiated into space is being trapped,” he said.
Cigliano said carbon dioxide released in one country ends up in the global atmosphere, which affects everyone, everywhere.
“Climate change is a global problem so a global approach is needed,” he said. “Climate change is real, and we have an obligation to combat it given our leadership position in the world and that we are the top greenhouse gas emitter.”
Trump’s decision, which was not well received by celebrities, business leaders, government officials and college professors, was also not well received by several states.
According to a June 9 Business Insider article titled “This map shows states are vowing to defy Trump and uphold the U.S. Paris Agreement goals,” written by Leanna Garfield and Skye Gould, “Eleven states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have vowed to pursue policies that will uphold the United States’ commitments to the accord. They’ve joined the United States Climate Alliance, a growing bipartisan group that seeks to reduce greenhouse-gas emission nationwide.”
According to the article, states vowing to uphold the Paris agreement include New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, Minnesota, Washington , Oregon, California and Hawaii.
We can also do our part to help reduce the affects of global warming and climate change.
Several ways Americans can help include:
• Being informed about what global warming and climate change is and how they affect the environment;
• Reducing emission gases by carpooling, riding mass transit, buying a green energy-efficient vehicle or combining all necessary errands into one trip instead of multiple trips;
• Making homes more energy efficient by changing to energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs;
• Making use of the recycling programs in their neighborhood; and
• Using non-aerosol products instead of aerosol containers.
Whether or not you agree with the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global approach is necessary to help reduce the affects of global warming and climate changes and to protect the planet for our children and future generations.
If Trump didn’t like all the terms of the agreement, he should have worked with the 190 other world leaders to change the terms instead of completely withdrawing from the agreement.