The Paris Climate Agreement: Not Trump’s Decision

Photography by Goran Horvat

After years of denouncing climate change as a hoax, winning the presidency on an anti-environmentalist platform and defunding multiple environmental programs, President Trump officially initiated America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement on Nov. 4. The withdrawal will not be finalized until after the 2020 election, which means a change in administration can prevent the move. This timing allows voters to determine the future of the U.S.’ role in the global climate conversation. 

Faulty economic and political arguments motivated Trump’s decision. In the summer of 2019, Trump commented,“I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive. I’m not going to lose that wealth — I’m not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills.” 

The president prioritizes “wealth” and oil over progress to reduce carbon emissions, believing a changed world to be nothing but a foolish dream. The Paris Climate Agreement threatens Trump’s conceptions of wealth and success, forcing him to use his administrative power to disassociate the U.S. from international environmental efforts in order to maintain the illusion he has built for himself.  

The Trump administration also argues that the agreement puts excessive responsibility on the U.S. for a global crisis not entirely caused by the country. He claims that developing nations produce the most carbon emissions and that the U.S. cannot fairly be held accountable for the actions of these nations. However, the U.S. is ranked as one of the top three producers of carbon emissions globally and produces 10 times more greenhouse gases per capita than India, the top greenhouse gas emitter.

The Paris Climate Agreement attempts more than just casting blame and dividing up responsibilities for climate change, it calls all nations to unite to combat a global crisis that affects all countries and all citizens. By withdrawing from the agreement, President Trump makes a statement against international cooperation, against allies and against global unification.

“Once again, President Trump is abandoning our global allies for the sake of misplaced political gain. Now America stands alone – nearly 200 countries have joined this global commitment to fighting climate change, even global pariahs like North Korea and civil war-torn countries like Syria,” said Senator Tom Carper.

Trump’s decision neglected American allies and failed to partake in a global cooperation that could alter the course of our planet. The vast resources and technological development of the U.S. allows the country to make a significant impact in the battle against climate change. Reducing U.S. carbon emissions by 50% would undoubtedly have a significant impact on the climate and the nation is poised to do so. Already, research in algae, tidal energy and plant based meats provide promising solutions to many environmental problems. If the U.S. were to cooperate with other nations and fund these creative projects and innovative solutions, the world would be a better place for it.

Voters cannot disregard the impact that the U.S. has on carbon emissions and must elect a president who pledges to use the countries’ resources and technology to reduce the American impact on climate change. 

The American voters have the power to reverse this detrimental decision. They can prioritize international cooperation and the future of the planet over “fairness” and supposed economic interests. In the 2020 election, American voters have an opportunity to positively affect the future of planet earth and change the destiny of our home. 

Emily Anderson is a second-year English major. She can be reached at enander1@uci.edu.