The 1st of June 2017 will go down in history as a victory for climate change skeptics when America formally withdrew from the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change – the world’s affirmative action on addressing the issues on global warming.
U.S. President Donald Trump declared: “In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord… but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.“1
Prior to Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, only Nicaragua and Syria remained as the last two nations which were not part of the agreement. According to Nicaragua’s envoy Paul Oquist, the agreement was simply not tough enough.2
Immediately after Trump’s speech, leaders, governments and well-known personalities the world over denounced his action.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni released a joint statement: “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.”3
United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her disappointment and affirmed British commitment to the Paris Agreement.
In a late-night televised address, Macron called on U.S. citizens, specifically researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs engaged in climate change work who were disappointed with Trump’s action to come to France and, in a play with Trump’s slogan, help “make the planet great again.”4
The 68 mayors of some of the largest American cities responded to Obama’s call and are fighting back against Trump. They vowed: “We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. And if the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks.”
With the U.S. as the second highest emitter of carbon dioxide, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has negative consequences for the environment especially since he is very much supportive of the revival of the coal industry and the continued use of fossil fuels.
Another possible backlash of Trump’s withdrawal is that of other countries following suit, or at the every least, not taking their commitments seriously. Hence, at this point, it is important for everyone who cares for the planet to band together and be vigilant in the strict adherence of each country and leader to the Paris Agreement.
So what can you as an individual do to fight against climate change deniers and ensure that your country will deliver on its commitments to the Paris Agreement? Here are five simple steps:
1. Never waver on the advocacy for climate change.
With Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, climate change deniers are likely to be more emboldened. It is our responsibility to not allow them to get the upper hand. Do whatever you can to talk about the reality of climate change, point out the facts, be patient and kind. Of course, there are people who are already so set in their views that it would be like talking to a stone. But try to find a common ground, say the future of their children, the economy, shared beliefs and interests – you might find that some people might be more receptive to what you have to say by discussing the issue around things they value the most.
2. Know the arguments of a climate change denier. Prepare yours.
A climate change denier has lots of arguments against it. Trump, for example, tweeted in 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” The important thing is to read up and prepare yourself. It takes a lot of preparation and passion to take on this advocacy.
3. Talk to people. Write to your policymakers.
Find a way to get your thoughts heard. Talk to your friends, your wider network. Use social media. Write to your politicians and let them know your thoughts on their policies on climate change. After all, they have a responsibility to you as their constituent.
Recommended reading: Ban the Bag: How to Encourage Your Local Government to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags
4. Don’t be so close-minded yourself.
The usual problem in a conversation between a climate change denier and an activist is that nobody listens to each other. While you may not necessarily agree with the thoughts of someone who does not believe in the climate change issue, it pays to listen so you know where the other person is coming from. This will allow you to both learn and understand each other and will hopefully lead to a climate change convert.
5. Draw strength from fellow climate change activists.
Advocating for climate change can sometimes get you down, knowing the reality of the issue, its disastrous consequences and what you might feel is the stubbornness of some people and leaders to listen to reason. It pays to join or create a support group of climate change activists where you can draw strength from in those times that you desperately need it.
Recommended reading: How to Fight Activist Burnout
Hopefully, with the continued support of leaders, governments, businesses, civil society and individuals such as you and me, the fight against climate change will prosper, despite this huge setback as a result of Trump’s withdrawal.
If you have any thoughts about how to deal with climate change deniers, share them with us.
- BBC News. 2017. Paris Climate Deal: Trump Pulls Out of 2015 Accord. BBC News, 02 June 2017. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40127326. ↩
- Taylor, A. 2017. Why Nicaragua and Syria Didn’t Join the Paris Climate Accord. The Washington Post, 31 May 2017. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/05/31/why-nicaragua-and-syria-didnt-join-the-paris-climate-accord/?utm_term=.6f516c1d7d59. ↩
- Watts, J. & Connolly, K. 2017. World Leaders Reject Trump’s Claim Paris Deal Can Be Renegotiated. The Guardian, 01 June 2017. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/01/trump-withdraw-paris-climate-deal-world-leaders-react. ↩
- Abrams, A. 2017. French President Emmanuel Macron Trolls Donald Trump: ‘Make Our Planet Great Again.’ Time, 01 June 2017. [Available at: http://time.com/4802549/emmanuel-macron-trolls-donald-trump-paris-climate-agreement/.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama, who negotiated the agreement on behalf of the U.S. said “even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.“[5. BBC News. 2017. Trump Climate Deal Pullout: The Global Reaction. BBC News, 02 June 2017. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40128266. ↩