(Northport, NY) On June 1, 2017, President Donald J. Trump announced during a speech at the White House Rose Garden that he would be withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, citing environmental standards imposed on American businesses and workers that he said placed undue and unfair economic strain on the country as a whole. Instead, Trump has championed the coal and oil industries, two energy sources that have long since been lambasted by clean energy experts as “outdated” and environmentally unfriendly.
The move by Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement agreed to by his predecessor, Barack Obama, drew immediate condemnation from world leaders and environmental activists alike, as well as numerous business and corporate leaders, many of whom noted that as a result of pulling out of the Paris Agreement – a landmark pledge among over one hundred countries worldwide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and embrace clean, renewable energy sources – America would be taking a back seat on both environmental progress and the development of jobs in the quickly growing clean energy market.
However, and surprisingly enough, almost immediately individual cities and states across the nation began to announce that they would adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Paris Agreement; within a week of Trump’s announcement, a number of local and state leaders had signed pledges declaring that they would work to meet the emission standards and other practices outlined by the Paris Agreement, according to VOA News.
“More than a dozen governors have signed new climate change pledges since Trump made the announcement. Their states represent nearly 40 percent of the U.S. economy,” they said. “So far, over 270 mayors have agreed to ‘adopt, honor and uphold the commitments to the goals’ of the Paris agreement. This includes cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing investments in renewable energies.”
Soon afterward, USA Today reported that momentum among states to join with the Paris Agreement was increasing; Washington, New York, and California banded together to form the United States Climate Alliance, and were quickly joined by nine additional states – Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia – soon afterwards.
“The goal of the alliance is to bring states together to reduce emissions 26%-28% from 2005 levels, in order to meet or exceed the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan,” USA Today said. “The plan, instituted by President Obama in 2015, targeted coal-fired power plants, requiring existing power plants to cut harmful emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.”
The membership of the United States Climate Alliance – which several other states are currently considering joining – will also act to strengthen existing climate programs, offer assistance and information to members on ideal environmental practices, and create new initiatives to further reduce their respective carbon footprints on the Earth.
While the United States Climate Change Alliance’s goals are certainly lofty and seek to preserve and improve the environment for us all, the Washington Post recently published an in-depth article outlining how and why their Alliance’s objectives – while certainly possible to achieve – may nonetheless be facing an uphill battle without the support of the Federal Government, among other factors.
However, it’s not just city and state governments who were in favor of the Paris Agreement; many American businesses were excited by its prospects as well, both in terms of improving the environment and enhancing the number and quality of jobs in the clean energy market. Business Insider recently wrote that, while the stated reasoning of Trump behind the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was to save American jobs, doing so has actually put not only renewable energy field in jeopardy, but the fossil fuel field as well.
“According to John Sterman, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and senior advisor at Climate Interactive, leaving the Paris Agreement would create an uncertainty in the economy over the future of both fossil fuels and renewable energy resources,” they said. “That would be bad for businesses and others hoping to invest in renewable energy, and could spread to other countries’ economies as well. It would also lead to slower renewable energy deployments, Sterman says.”
So great is the perceived threat to U.S. energy companies by the abandonment of the Paris Agreement, that even a number of fossil fuel companies – including Exxon Mobil – had petitioned the Government to remain in it; in addition to the uncertainty for the energy industry as whole leaving the Agreement could cause, many U.S. oil companies are deep into clean energy development as well, such as natural gas. Leaving the Agreement could take America’s seat away from the worldwide bargaining table, experts say.
Environmental activists, such as us at Yellow Pages Goes Green, are staunch supporters of clean and renewable energy development as well as any measure that would curb and curtail greenhouse gas emissions across the globe. We are hopeful that if President Trump did not find the particulars of the Paris Climate Change Agreement to be in the best interests of the country he is sworn to lead, that he would consider nonetheless honoring the spirit of environmentalism and negotiate with the holders of the treaty that he seeks to remove the United States from. Trump has time to consider his options, as the Paris Agreement stipulates that any member country seeking to leave it must give notice, according to Bustle.
“Each country that enters into it must remain for three years. Afterward, they may give a written notice to withdraw, but such a withdrawal still doesn’t happen for another year,” they said. “And while the agreement was discussed in 2015, it didn’t actually go into effect until November 2016. That means that the United States can’t officially say it’s leaving until 2019, and the earliest it could withdraw is November 2020.”
So, the Paris Agreement will likely be a hot-button topic come the 2020 Presidential elections; clearly Trump has plenty of time to mull his options over when the environment is concerned. Hopefully he will make the right decision for our country and the planet as whole. In the meantime, U.S. cities and states are doing their best to pick up the environmental slack, so to speak.