OPINION: The US is abandoning its responsibility to the future of the planet by leaving the Paris Agreement

In the latest development of the ongoing climate crisis, the Trump administration has formally announced that the United States will be leaving the Paris Agreement on climate change. Trump’s announcement, made Nov. 4, will take a year to go into effect, meaning that the official date of departure is Nov. 4, 2020. Without the U.S., the member nations of the Paris Agreement are left missing one of their strongest allies.

The Paris Agreement is an important alliance that brings over 100 countries together under the goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. One of their key beliefs is that industrialized nations, like the U.S., should take larger responsibility for lowering greenhouse-gas emissions to lessen the burden of developing nations. The U.S. has one of the largest economies in the world, meaning it has the resources to pursue sustainable policy. By leaving the Paris Agreement, the Trump administration is abandoning the U.S.’s responsibility to the future of our planet.

The Trump administration argues that the Paris Agreement would stifle U.S. sovereignty and harm the economy. In order to meet Paris Agreement standards, the U.S. would have to almost completely restructure their economy, which is true. At the same time, the science is undeniable: climate change is happening now. Yes, the U.S. would need to make sacrifices to meet the standards of the Paris Agreement, but action is necessary to avoid the dangers that scientists are so adamantly warning about.

According to the United Nations, 17 million people were displaced from their homes in 2018 due to natural disasters. Scientists predict that warming climate will result in more natural disasters occuring, in turn creating more victims. In California, the effects are clear. Average temperatures hit new highs year after year, and wildfires have raged through the state. Now is the time to collaborate with other nations. 

Trump has an important responsibility to lead the fight against climate change, and his reluctance underscores the need for increased individual action. Students can remain informed, vote in elections at all levels of politics and buy environmentally-friendly products. Individual efforts, however, seem futile when the highest authority in the United States is ignoring the climate crisis. Every person needs to make their voice heard and be proactive.