The U.S. is the biggest loser on the planet thanks to Trump’s calamitous act

Vicki Arroyo writes: Life here in the US feels surreal lately, like a very bad reality TV show, thanks to Donald Trump. In no case is this more evident than the president’s decision – and the process and theatre around it – to abandon the Paris climate agreement and nearly every other country in the world.

The Paris agreement was a groundbreaking deal that allowed each country to decide its own contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even though it is non-binding, the agreement puts the world on the path to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2C, which scientists warn would be disastrous for our planet.

By abandoning the agreement, we are not only ceding global leadership but also effectively renouncing our global citizenship. The US is joining Nicaragua (which felt the agreement did not go far enough) and Syria (in the midst of a devastating civil war) as the only nations without a seat at the Paris table. As an American, I am embarrassed and ashamed of this abdication of our responsibility, especially since the US has been the world’s largest contributor of carbon emissions over time. We have become a rogue nation.

This action will not put “America first”. Instead, we risk becoming, to cite an actual reality TV show, the “biggest loser” in a global race towards a new, more vibrant and innovative clean energy economy.

Trump’s dubious claims regarding the impact of the Paris agreement have been widely discredited. No amount of rhetoric will bring back coal and nothing will stop the explosive growth of clean energy jobs. Already, wind and solar employ nearly three times as many people as the coal industry does, according to the Department of Energy’s 2017 energy and employment report.

Trump claimed he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris. Pittsburgh’s mayor, William Peduto, fired back: “President Trump’s decision is disastrous for our planet, for cities such as Pittsburgh.” In fact, the once smoke-choked industrial city highlights the enormous benefits that come from adopting cleaner energy, as called for under the Paris agreement. The city is a recognised leader for investments in green infrastructure (green roofs, urban forest projects, etc) that create jobs, reduce emissions and protect citizens from climate impacts such as increased urban heat island effect and more intense storms. Pittsburgh has been named the US’s “most livable city” six times since 2000 exactly because of this. [Continue reading…]

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