Even though the U.S. has emitted the most greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of any country in the world and majorities of Americans in every state support participation in the Paris Agreement, Trump announced plans to withdraw. The U.S. will be one of three countries in the world not participating in this international effort to mitigate climate change. The other countries not participating are Nicaragua and Syria – with Nicaragua not participating because the agreement wasn’t strong enough on big emitters. The planned U.S. withdrawal is devastating and hurts the U.S. the most (think economy, global leadership). However, we are already seeing responses that illustrate people understand the gravity of climate change, that they are willing to do something about it, and the momentum to address climate change is unstoppable.
Shareholders in the oil and gas company ExxonMobil passed a resolution requiring the company to analyze and report on risks to the company due to climate change. This is an important step towards more transparency in the oil and gas sector, where most greenhouse gas emissions come from, and efforts to reduce those emissions. Getting the majority vote to override company management and pass the climate resolution, shows that more investors, including big financial firms, are willing to walk the talk and make climate-smart decisions. By Steven Mufson on Washington Post.
Right away, over 30 city mayors, governors of three states, more than 80 university presidents, and more than 100 business pledged to meet the GHG reduction targets the U.S. committed to as part of the Paris Agreement. The pledge will be formalized through a plan submitted to the United Nations. Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor who is currently part of the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for cities and climate change, is spearheading the coalition. He also announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies will donate approximately $15 million over two years to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the past few days, the governors of New York, California, Washington launched the state-level U.S. Climate Alliance and have been officially joined or received verbal alignment by a handful of others states. The mayors of 187 cities have announced their alignment to Paris, including New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta as well smaller towns across the U.S. Is your city committed? Other cities, states, companies, etc. are expected to step up as this broad coalition is still forming and details are unfolding.
Not only have European countries reconfirmed their commitments to the Paris Agreement, so have China, Japan, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Austrailia, and India among others. The statements confirm that the international community remains committed to addressing climate change despite U.S. actions. One reactionary tweet that sums up Trump’s move came from the former president of Mexico Vicente Fox: “He’s declaring war on the planet itself.”
At this time the saying “think global, act local” rings especially true. If you live in the U.S. and your city and/or state hasn’t made a statement aligning to Paris, please get in contact with your governor and/or mayor (e.g., tweet, email, call) and request local action to address climate change and official alignment.
In case you missed it, we were featured in a post by UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) exploring how sustainability at the individual level is fundamental to achieving sustainable development.
Quote of the Week: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” -Jane Goodall