Trump’s climate change accord snub will hurt future generations
Despite the denial of some Republicans in the US, the international community has reached a consensus. It agrees that the increase of average global temperatures in the past few decades was caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere as a result of the global economic development largely powered by fossil fuel.
In November 2016, the Paris climate agreement came into effect. More than 55 parties have ratified it, promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement threatens to undermine global efforts to mitigate global warming as the US accounts for nearly 18 per cent of annual global emissions.
Withdrawing from the Paris agreement will leave the young and future generations in the US particularly vulnerable to climate change. In 2015, 21 US citizens aged from nine to 20 filed a lawsuit (Juliana vs US) claiming that the US federal government had violated their constitutional rights by failing to curb climate change. After a motion to dismiss the case was denied in the court, the Trump administration’s policies of trying to revive the coal industry and remove restrictions on fossil fuels will be legally challenged. In March, two environmental groups sued the Trump administration for violating the National Environmental Policy Act by approving construction of new oil pipelines between the US and Canada. It is hoped more lawsuits like these could force the US government to protect the livelihood of younger generations who may have to face the catastrophic consequences of global warming.
The decision to leave the Paris accord is also opposed by the US business community. A letter signed by CEOs of 30 major American companies, urging the US to stay in the accord, said that the US participation in the agreement could benefit American businesses through strengthening their competitiveness, promoting more efficient manufacturing technologies and creating new jobs for developing and exporting such technologies.
At the age of 71, Donald Trump may not witness the immense suffering of mankind caused by catastrophic climate change. Thanks to his administration’s decision on the Paris accord, however, he will most likely be remembered in history as an immature and incompetent demagogue whose climate policies threatened the livelihood of US citizens and people around the world.
Simon Wang, Kowloon Tong