From the Summer Daily: Trump's ill-advised climate decision

Friday, July 7, 2017 - 12:08pm

On June 1, the Trump administration announced they were fulfilling a campaign promise to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. The agreement, made in December 2015 and currently includes 195 signatures, was a landmark success in the effort to coordinate a global response to adapt and respond to climate change. It was intended to bind the world’s nations in a mutual agreement to curb global temperature increases and confirmed that many nations, including China, Israel and Palestine, would devote funds and time to develop a more conservationist planet.

It is the position of the Summer Daily Editorial Board that due to President Donald Trump’s lack of a comprehensive plan and contemplation on the Paris Climate Accord, his decision will have dramatic negative implications for the international reputation of the United States. In addition, the removal of the United States, who is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, slows the needed global effort to curb climate change. It is the best interest of the United States, as one of the two world powers that led the negotiations along with China, to maintain their position and not undermine the truth: climate change exists, and we must find ways to control rising temperatures.

The Paris Climate Accord was a landmark deal that would work to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through human activity to a level at which the oceans and other biomass can naturally absorb the gases, to review each country’s efforts every five years, with the intention of scaling efforts to curb emissions at that time, and help other countries through “climate finance” to acclimate to climate change and forms of renewable energy. It is our view that the United States, along with the rest of the world, has a moral obligation, regardless of cost, to uphold these matters so as to improve efforts to combat climate change.

We also find that the Trump Administration, in addition to the many decisions he has made within the first six months of his presidency, did not consider the massive implications that this plan had on curbing the effects of climate change. His belief that the 2015 agreement was “draconian,” saying that the environmental standards placed on American businesses were unfair and inhibitory to economic growth, is wildly incorrect and undermines the policies that shaped the accord. 

The Trump administration’s campaign promise to remove the United States from the accord and negotiate a better deal is partially driven by his voters. Though the coal industry — where many workers have been losing jobs in recent years — applauded Trump’s decision, many major American businesses support the deal, as well as a majority of Americans. As the president of the United States, Trump is representing the country on the international stage; it is morally unacceptable to disregard the majority of American voices.

Soon after Trump issued the decision, he reached out to the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Canada to explain his decision; nonetheless, the leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement saying that the Paris Climate Accord was “irreversible” and could not be renegotiated. President Trump has undermined the United States on the world economic stage. The fastest growing job market nationally and internationally is in renewable energy. Removing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord creates an economic hole for world powers such as China to invest in renewable energy.  In fact, China has already spent billions in renewable energy and looks to invest more after news came out that the United States was removing itself from the agreement. If the United States wants to be the world’s “true” economic superpower,” denying the growth of the renewable energy industry is foolish and ignorant.

It is in the best interest of this country for its citizens to resist the decision made by President Trump. Businesses, states and cities are already pushing back against the removal, pledging to help curb climate change and support the efforts of the Paris Climate Accord. In the face of faltering federal support, the University should reaffirm its commitment to supporting sustainability programs and climate research across campus. We urge readers to do their part, too, by supporting environmental nonprofits and taking “green” actions — using public transportation, recycling and monitoring electricity usage, for instance, are all small lifestyle changes that can make a difference. Call your senators and representatives, and insist that they support the Paris Climate Accord guidelines.