Trump's Paris Withdrawal: 'One of the Most Ignorant and Dangerous' Actions of Any President
Donald Trump announced today that he intends to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. According to the terms of the agreement, no country can begin the withdrawal process until three years after the agreement enters into force and the withdrawal would not take effect for one year after that date.
The agreement, which entered into force on Nov. 4, 2016, has been signed by every nation on Earth except war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, which would like it to be even stronger. Since the agreement came into force and Trump began to waver, dozens of countries—including India, China and the EU—have reaffirmed their commitment. The earliest the U.S. will be able to complete the withdrawal is Nov. 4, 2020, one day after the next U.S. Presidential election.A recent Yale Program on Climate Change Communication poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans, including a majority in all 50 states, support the U.S. participating in the Paris agreement.
Generations from now, Americans will look back at Donald Trump's decision to leave the Paris agreement as one of the most ignorant and dangerous actions ever taken by any president. Trump's decision to ignore the vast majority of the American public and the scientific community will harm our country, costing us lives, jobs and our role as a world leader. Trump has isolated our country on the world stage, ceding our leadership position and our economic advantage on clean energy to India and China, and justifying it all by chanting a slogan from a baseball hat.
It's hard to overstate the negative consequences at home and abroad of this foolish, self-destructive move that will only help boost profits for few of the worst polluters while risking the health of our families and communities. Future scholars will search in vain to find a President with this level of disdain for reality and the future of humanity.
Effective leaders are driving state and local action in the United States, moving strongly forward as coal plants across the country continue to retire, dirty fossil fuel infrastructure investments falter, and innovative policies drive clean energy jobs like solar and wind to profound new heights. With our allies, Sierra Club members and supporters have helped retire more than 250 polluting coal plants in recent years, and also ensured that more than 25 American cities, from Atlanta, Georgia to San Diego, California, have committed to getting 100 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2030.
American climate advocates have a message for the world: we aren't waiting around for Donald Trump to pull his head out of the sand, and neither should you. The Paris agreement is the collective achievement of leaders around the world, and it cannot and will not be derailed by the ignorance of one man whose term of office is highly uncertain.
Watch Trump's announcement here (starts 37 minutes into the video).
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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