5 reasons why Trump can’t tear up the Paris Agreement
Since his inauguration in November last year, Donald Trump’s attack on the environment has been relentless. He’s approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, he’s put more than 2.7 million acres of iconic US landscape at risk from fossil fuel exploration and he’s proposing a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, effectively eliminating its climate change programs.
Now, Trump is threatening to pull out of the Paris Agreement, a landmark commitment struck by nearly 200 nations aimed at limiting global warming to well below 2°C. As the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the U.S. plays a massive role in achieving this. It’s hard to imagine how we’ll do it without them.
But there’s hope. Here’s 5 reasons why Trump can’t tear up the Paris Agreement, even if he tries to.
1. U.S. momentum is bigger than Trump
71% of American people support the Paris Agreement. That’s seven in ten people. Not only that but there’s resounding support for renewable energy, with a whopping 89% of Americans supporting solar farm expansion and 83% supporting wind.
This passion for renewables is reflected in state governments, too. Last year, mayors from 71 U.S. cities (representing over 38 million people!) urged Trump to retain his Paris commitments and 15 U.S. states threatened Trump with legal action should he try to leave.
If the worst happens, 34 of 50 U.S. states already have climate action plans and are prepared to forge ahead with the terms of the agreement without federal support. 27 U.S. cities have even gone so far as to commit to using 100% renewables by 2035. When it comes to tackling climate change, the U.S. isn’t waiting for Trump to catch up.
2. Businesses around the world are pledging their support
Perhaps most persuasive of all for a businessman like Trump is the resounding economic support for the Paris Agreement.
Last week, more than a thousand U.S. companies, including Google, Microsoft and Walmart, signed the ‘Business Backs Low-Carbon USA’ statement, urging Trump to stay in the agreement. If Trump does the opposite, the companies have pledged to ‘do our part, in our own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.’
Major stock market investors are echoing those sentiments, too. This week, a group of investors from all over the world, managing more than $15 trillion in assets, sent a letter to Trump imploring him to fight climate change by keeping his commitments.
Astoundingly, even oil companies like Shell and Exxon are on board, a sure fire sign that the renewable age has arrived and Trump’s dated ideology is bad for business.
3. World leaders are overwhelmingly in favour of the agreement
In the face of Trump’s threats, world leaders are speaking out. The prime minister of Fiji told Trump: “Climate change is not a hoax… don’t let the whole side down.” Chinese President Xi Jinping reminded him that “There is only one earth in the universe and we mankind have only one homeland.” And on Monday, French President-elect Emmanuel Macron used his first phone call with Trump to vow that he and the people of France will defend the agreement at all costs.
So, far from destabilising the commitments of other countries, Trump’s threats to abandon the agreement are only strengthening the world’s resolve to tackle climate change. That means that even without U.S. participation, 196 countries are committed to a sustainable future. Countries that account for 87% of global emissions.
4. Even Trump can’t stop the renewable energy boom
Whether Donald Trump likes it or not, renewable energy is taking over. Both the solar and wind industries are creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy and energy capacity for these two sources has increased almost fivefold since 2008. This is in tandem with renewable energy success stories the world over.
Last year, China added more than 34 gigawatts of solar capacity–nearly 1.5 times the amount the U.S. has installed in its entire histor–and Portugal ran entirely on renewable energy for four days straight. And at one point in 2015, Denmark generated a whopping 140% of their electricity demand from renewables, enough to share with Germany, Norway and Sweden.
Renewable energy is not only working, it’s thriving, and there’s nothing Trump can do about it.
5. We won’t let him get away with it
Right now, Theresa May is one of the few world leaders Trump will actually listen to. Their relationship is so special that they’re coordinating their outfits and holding hands. So a clear signal from our PM that the UK’s commitment to the Paris deal is non-negotiable could give Trump pause.
After all, the UK played a key role in securing the Paris Agreement and May herself said that the Conservative government is determined to “play our part in the international effort against climate change.” Now it’s time to put those words into action.
But what can we do to help? So far, Greenpeace UK has joined forces with Oxfam, the RSPB, WWF, Christian Aid, Cafod and others urging the PM to defend the agreement. Greenpeace offices around the world are mobilising their supporters to speak out and Greenpeace USA is coordinating the resistance movement on the ground.
Here in the UK, almost 150,000 of us have signed a petition asking Theresa May to pick up the phone and tell Trump to stay in the Paris Agreement.
If you want to save the Paris climate deal, please sign the petition too.
About Emily Buchanan
I'm a creative producer for Greenpeace UK