Really? We’re Leaving the Paris Accord on Climate Change?
Let’s be very clear right from the start – Neighborhood Sun, as well as every one of the Neighborhood Sun staff, is committed to fighting climate change as if it threatened the future of the human race. Because it does. This is not a partisan issue, though there are many politicians who make it so, and Neighborhood Sun is a non-partisan organization.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take our non-partisan discussion to the world stage – the urgent warning from leading scientists around the globe and the United States withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Accord on Climate Change.
Warning from 11,000 Scientists – “Untold suffering” will be caused by climate change if humanity doesn’t change its ways.
I don’t know about anyone else, but if 11,000 engineers told me that driving myself and my family across a bridge would surely result in pain, suffering and deaths, I would NOT drive across that bridge – even if the President of the United States told me that it was safe. I don’t care if that president were Donald Trump, Barack Obama, or Abraham Lincoln.
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to ‘tell it like it is.’ On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.” So reads the opening paragraph of the warning issued in BioScience November 2019.
In fact, these warnings have been issued on a regular basis by the scientific community for 40 years (the first coming in Geneva in 1979). The fact that the world’s inability to act has resulted in more dire warnings is not to be unexpected. But when does “wolf” really mean “wolf?” We at Neighborhood Sun are taking all of these warnings seriously, and we encourage – no we plead for everyone else to take action as well.
Now, to address the United States withdrawal from the Paris Accord on Climate Change:
For more than a century, the United States was the world leader in nearly all issues of importance: medicine, space exploration, technology, agriculture, manufacturing, human rights, democracy and yes, diplomacy. That is why it is exceptionally disturbing that our President has unilaterally decided to withdraw from an accord that was agreed upon by over 175 countries. We are either abdicating our leadership, or we are leading in the wrong direction.
Here are some little-known facts about the Paris Accord:
- The Accord is non-binding – meaning that each participating country is voluntarily pledging to work their hardest to meet their own goals, benefitting the global community with as little disruption of their own country’s needs, be they a developing third-world country, or a super-power.
- The overall agreement has a goal to raise $100 billion for the Green Climate Fund – which helps developing countries adapt and mitigate practices to fight climate change. The United States has pledged $3 billion towards that fund – or about 1/6th the annual amount of federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
- There is no consequence or penalty for any country that falls short of their pledged goals. Meaning that the United States didn’t need to withdraw in order to pass environmentally devastating policies. In fact, the United States has been doing that for almost 3 years now.
- The United States is responsible for approximately 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions. That is second to China, but the U.S. is the greatest carbon polluter in history, by far. So, for 150 years we’ve been making a mess of the planet, and now we are leaving the party because it’s time to clean up.
We can do better. We need to for our children’s sake.
By Matty Guerin