Climate Won’t Be Only Winner if Trump Repledges to Paris Agreement

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

As the human population skyrockets, the koala’s dwindles. The number of koala bears still in their natural habitat has dropped below 80,000. Unfortunately, that means this arboreal herbivorous marsupial – meaning it loves trees, eats plants, and keeps babies in its pouch – will face extinction by 2050.

Humans have expanded into the koala’s territory and have stolen their resources through deforestation. We have also irresponsibly transformed the Earth’s climate, resulting in hotter and drier weather.

Today, bush fires ravage across more than 2.5 million acres in Australia while it endures a prolonged drought. It makes you wonder, are humans going to do anything for the koala’s survival – and their own?

Paris Climate Agreement

The Paris Agreement was human species’ most sincere attempt to rectify its damaging impact on the environment. Adopted in 2015, the pact would eventually bring together 186 countries to submit carbon reduction targets.

Some key aspects include limiting global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, President Donald Trump formally notified the United Nations on November 4 that it would withdraw the United States from the landmark accord.

With the U.S. outside the Paris Agreement, the treaty now only covers 80 percent of global emissions, down from 97 percent. The Trump administration needs to repledge the United States immediately.

Dangers of Climate Change

The Paris Agreement will mitigate the dangers of climate change. Scientific observation unequivocally shows that the Earth’s warming over the past half-century is primarily caused by human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases, that mostly come from burning coal, oil, and gas.

Carbon dioxide is a key factor in global warming. Photo: AFP, Patrik Stollarz

As climate change worsens, clean air and safe drinking water are expected to decrease. Meanwhile, deadly heatwaves, floods, and infectious diseases are expected to increase.

The Paris Agreement has secured commitments from nearly every nation to reduce its emission levels, including the United States. Americans must uphold and achieve our commitments alongside the international community.

America’s Interests

The Paris Agreement will stimulate America’s economy and industry. The global clean energy market will total over $60 trillion in the upcoming 25 years. By exiting the pact, the United States will miss its opportunity to capitalize on the world’s fastest-growing industry. Meanwhile, China announced it would invest over $360 billion in renewable energy by 2020, bolstering its ambition to dominate the clean energy economy.

As a party to the Paris Agreement, America and its interests will be better represented. Since Trump’s announcement, numerous U.S. states, cities, and businesses have pursued policies that uphold America’s commitments to the Paris Agreement. These subnational climate coalitions, such as We Are Still In, the U.S. Climate Alliance, and the American Cities Climate Challenge, represent 65 percent of the U.S. population and 68 percent of the U.S. economy.

Over 70 percent of Americans report they want the federal government to do more on climate change, while 67 percent say it will have a positive impact on the economy and jobs. President Trump should support the American people’s demands for climate action.

Clean Energy Market

Yet, Trump stands by his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. He argues compliance with the terms will result in a loss of manufacturing jobs and will negatively impact fossil fuel-based industries in the United States.

However, these industries have a highly skilled labor force, and their roles and skills can transfer directly into the clean energy industry. Solar and wind jobs in the United States are growing at a rate of about 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. In 2018, the number of total jobs in solar and wind energy reached 356,000. The clean energy industry also provides better annual pay at all levels of education, including the lowest-skilled jobs.

Climate change is life-threatening, and it is imperative the Trump administration act in accord with the science supporting this truth. The American people already have, and so has the international community. It is time for all of us to fight for sustainability.

The future of the koala – and humankind – depend on our actions today to save planet Earth.

Kyle Hall: @kytlehere Master's Student at The George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @kytlehere