Paris agreement withdrawal is poor environmental policy

Trump administration ignores bipartisan demands to combat global climate change

With chants of “Save the turtles!” still echoing from “VSCO girls” this past summer, the preservation of the Earth has recently become a meme. Although many find themselves laughing at these Earth-related memes, myself included, environmental awareness has truly begun to worm its way into the world of politics. In fact, many younger voters now consider it one of their top priorities. For many years, slowing climate change had been seen as a goal for just the Democratic Party, something that only a “tree-hugging liberal” would care about. However, after a variety of statistics were released addressing how long the government actually has to reverse climate change (about 11 years, according to the UN), and the realization that the US was the number two producer of climate related pollution (UCUSA), the issue became more bipartisan. This cooperation was then completely turned on its head by the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

Created in 2015 with the purpose of limiting the effect of industrial gasses on the climate, the Paris Agreement had been vital in determining new, financially-efficient ways to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Members signed to this agreement were required to plan and record the reduction of their own emissions, then report that data to the other member countries. Trump announced the intent to withdraw from this agreement due to an “unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers” (Mike Pompeo’s press release). The intent to withdraw was announced in the summer of 2017, but the administration officially began the year-long, formal withdrawal process this November.

To be completely blunt, Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement was a foolish move. Primarily, it reflects poorly on America as a whole. The United States is currently the only country to ever withdraw from this agreement, and once the withdrawal process is complete, it will be the only country not signed on to it. Withdrawing from this agreement makes it clear to other countries that the United States is not willing to work with them to combat climate change, and broadcasts that preserving the environment is not a top political priority. Yes, there might be a financial burden on the United States because of the requirements of the agreement, but it is not as if the climate is able to be changed overnight. It has taken years and years of neglect to destroy the Earth, and it will likely take decades and a lot of money to repair it. Reducing these costs in collaboration with others is possible, which is why the best part of the agreement was the opportunity to hear other countries discuss their financially efficient techniques. Without that group aspect, the United States just further isolates itself, and makes its financial burdens greater and greater.

Additionally, withdrawing from the agreement was a horrible decision because it means that no work will actually be done in terms of environmental preservation. Sure, the Trump administration has made promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ¼ by 2025, but without an agreement and a variety of other countries to hold the United States to their word, these goals will never be accomplished. This has been clearly shown, as the Trump administration has made several attempts to expand the limits on emissions, and in 2018 it was reported that U.S. carbon emissions actually increased. You can call me a “tree-hugger”, or a “VSCO girl” for trying to save the environment. But, it doesn’t change the fact that all people, even the President of the United States, should care about saving an Earth that we all must continue to live upon.