US stands alone on Climate at G20

28th Dec 2018
US stands alone on Climate at G20

Graphic by John Cook from “Consensus on Consensus” (2016) uses pie charts to illustrate the results of seven climate consensus studies into the scientific agreement on human-caused global warming by Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed Maibach, J Stuart Carlton, and John Cook (Image: Wiki Commons)

It’s one thing to believe in something that has been proven false, but it’s a much more dangerous thing to enact policy based on that unfounded belief – a policy that will affect the lives of billions of people around the world.

At the last month’s G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, United States President, Donald Trump, decided to reaffirm the United States’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, doubling down on his denial of human-induced climate change.

He was the sole world leader present who required a separate statement regarding his country’s role in the climate agreement before signing the communiqué. The caveat read: “The United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment.”

Even with dire consequences for climate change occurring all over the United States, Trump stands by his denial of scientific facts, and actively encourages environmental deregulation. Recently, he has supported a push to open up protected areas for oil drilling, including sage grouse habitat in Colorado, and Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Every week, a new climate report comes out – each direr than the last. The latest was from the United States Government, and it described the inevitability of thousands of climate-related deaths and a shrinking economy. Still, Trump and his cabinet ignored it.

The content did not seem to be edited or redacted, but some thought that its’ timing, published the day after Thanksgiving, was meant to be minimally impactful. Perhaps, the myriad Government experts who contributed to the report thought that putting the economy front and centre might pique the interest of Trump’s administration, which is full of business-minded people worried primarily about America’s financial interests.

In an interview with the Washington Post, President Trump claimed to have “high levels of intelligence” but is still not a believer in the science of human-induced climate change.

The New York Times reported on the report that “American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast.” In particular, the trade will be disrupted due to extreme weather conditions, affecting supply chains as well as import/export prices. Agricultural centres will be some of the hardest hit, as droughts, flooding, and wildfires may damage crop yields and drive up prices for consumers, affecting farmers’ bottom lines.

A few days after the G20 summit concluded, COP24, the international climate conference, began in Poland.

To the dismay of environmentalists, and to the shock of some world leaders, the United States represented their president’s signature audacity by leading a pro-fossil fuel event, which garnered support from Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Some were especially critical of Australia’s support for the event, given its relationship with, and proximity to, vulnerable Pacific islands, many of which are already suffering from sea level rise.

It is common knowledge that Trump is a fan of being praised. One of his favourite things to do as President is to hold rallies where he can get an ego boost listening to large crowds cheer as he repeats the same talking points from the 2016 campaign.

He constantly talks about bringing back coal jobs, even when many former coal miners have accepted the fact that coal is being phased out, and have done what they can to move on and become skilled in other trades.

Trump’s hard push to loosen Obama-era environmental regulations by strategically putting climate deniers in positions of power over land use and environmental protection is the opposite of what is needed.

The world has always been aware of the United States’s hypocrisy when it comes to environmental protection, as they have been one of the world’s largest polluters for decades, but they also see them as a leader in innovative technologies, as well as experts in marketing such technologies to the masses, given that they are the world’s most gung-ho capitalists.

Now, as the rest of the world grapples with the impending doom of climate change, scrambling to counterbalance the United States’s idleness on the issue to save humanity from extinction, Trump’s only priority remains – his ego.

According to the United States President, as long as coal miners cheer, the rest of the world can burn.

Sarah Sakeena Marshall,
English Language Teacher & Environmental Columnist

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