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As we Abandon Paris, are we Breaking America?

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Nov 7, 2019, 7:17:43 AM

On Monday, President Trump officially began the process of pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, sidelining the world’s largest economy from crucial discussions about climate change—the greatest challenge of our generation, and the opportunity of a lifetime.

Earlier this week, President Trump submitted a formal notice to the United Nations confirming his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. 

Instead of collaborating with the nearly 200 other countries that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the risks of climate change, Trump decided to cede leadership to the European Union, China, and others under the guise that the Agreement would impose “intolerable burdens” on the American economy.

So far, the U.S. stands alone in its decision to walk away from the Agreement.  But even as we turn our back, the world charges ahead without us.  “We are preparing for a Plan B,” affirmed Laurence Tubiana, France’s former climate change ambassador. 

pngfind.com-united-nations-logo-png-6538307In fact, nations across the globe are planning the full-scale implementation of the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.  Rolling up their sleeves, delegates are diving headlong into the intricate process of developing a work program that will determine guidelines for how to track, report, and verify emissions reductions.

The departure of the U.S. has led to the strengthening and solidification of unlikely alliances.  For example, France has stepped closer to China—a spokesperson from French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said of the U.S. departure, "We regret this, but it only makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on the climate and biodiversity more necessary."

And, in an effort to level the playing field, countries like France and Germany are considering placing a carbon tax on imports from countries that don’t set stringent climate action policies.

Some critics, like Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, condemn the abandonment of the Paris Agreement as “the darkest moment in American diplomacy in a very long time and a huge blow to global efforts.”

Jonathan Pershing, the Obama State Department's special envoy for climate change, asserts that the United States has been “written off as a partner” with respect to climate action, especially since this is the second global climate pact that the U.S. has withdrawn from (the first was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.) 

Which is ironic and sad, given that we have the technology, the intelligence, and now even the political pathways to evolve beyond our current antediluvian status quo.

Which begs inevitable—and difficult—questions.  How can this administration possibly be so removed from our environmental realities?   How could it so myopically and irresponsibly place the interests and profits of the fossil fuel companies over the health of our planet and every species on it?  Why hasn’t it seized upon the business opportunity presented by clean energy solutions and advanced sustainable technologies? 

Why is it promoting a strategy that, if successful, will inevitably set us back decades, erode our nation’s international standing, and possibly make us a laughingstock in the eyes of our allies? 

Could this state of obliviousness—and apathy—end up being our nation’s downfall?   Where is leadership when it is needed most? 

These are just some of the questions that we’re going to address at Green Builder Media’s fourth annual Sustainability Symposium 2020: Improving the Human Condition, scheduled for January 20, 2020 on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas, focusing on the nexus between sustainability, social equality, and financial abundance. 

REGISTER NOW!

We invite you to join us for a day of inspiration, education, and networking, as our internationally esteemed presenters impart their wisdom.

And, don’t miss the celebration of our annual Home of the Year and Sustainability Awards winners at a special gala dinner on January 19, 2020 on the Zappos Campus.

Click here to register for the Sustainability Symposium 2020: Improving the Human Condition and Sustainability Awards galaSpace is strictly limited and by reservation only, so reserve your seat today!  Register for the Symposium before November 22, 2019 using the code EarlyBird and you’ll receive a $50 discount.

A sincere thank you to our generous sponsors, Ingersoll Rand, Mitsubishi Electric Trane, DuPont, Jinko Solar and Zappos, for helping to make the Symposium and gala dinner possible.

To learn more about the Sustainability Symposium 2020: Improving the Human Condition, visit the event microsite.

Have questions about our annual awards program or Sustainability Symposium?  Write to me at sara.gutterman@greenbuildermedia.com.

Want to read more?  Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit Green Builder Media at www.greenbuildermedia.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for regular updates and breaking news.

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