You’ve probably seen the headlines – the U.S. administration is reconsidering its participation in the Paris Agreement, the historic United Nations climate accord that unites all nations to fight the global challenge of climate change. As pundits and advisors spar over the value of keeping the United States in this accord, here are seven reasons why participation in the Paris Agreement is important for the U.S. – and the climate agreement itself.
1. The world has shown record-breaking support for the Paris Agreement: In December 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted by nearly every country on Earth, and it has broken records along the way: The adoption of the agreement was the largest meeting of world leaders in one place; the signing of the agreement saw the most signatures to an international agreement on a single day in history (175!); and the agreement entered into force in record time – only 11 months from adoption, to signing, to ratification and entry into force
The unprecedented support for this agreement and the speed with which it entered into force is a strong sign that the world recognizes that climate change is the greatest and most urgent challenge of our time, and the Paris Agreement is our best hope for addressing it.
2. The U.S. has been a leader in climate action. It can’t give that up now: The United States is the world’s biggest economy (and one of the biggest contributors to climate change), but it has also been one of the strongest advocates for climate action. The U.S. accounts for about 1/7thof the world’s total emissions, but that outsized impact means U.S. climate action also has an outsized influence on our global climate as well. In 2016, global emissions flat-lined for the third year in a row even as the global economy grew, due in large part because the world’s two largest economies – the U.S. and China – cut their emissions while still growing their economies. The U.S.’s impact and influence on global climate change can’t be underestimated, and its role as a global leader in climate action shouldn’t be abandoned now.
3. The Paris Agreement is good for U.S. jobs: At the heart of the Paris Agreement is a target to keep our total global warming to well below 2°C. To do this, countries must shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. While some may try to argue that this will “destroy American jobs,” the opposite is true: Solar and wind jobs in the U.S. are growing at a rate about 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. Jobs in U.S. solar grew 25% last year to include more than 260,000 workers. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry employed about 76,000 people in 2014 – about as many as were employed by the U.S. bowling industry.
If you’re looking for an industry that is surging, an industry with enormous potential to create and grow U.S. jobs, renewable energy is the answer – and the future – for a strong U.S. job market.
4. To compete and win in the global clean energy economy, the U.S. needs the Paris Agreement: The world is in the midst of a fundamental transition to clean energy: Consumers are demanding it, industries are investing in it, and jobs are surging. But if the U.S. steps away from the Paris Agreement, it will lose momentum in the clean energy race and cede our leadership position and vast economic opportunities to our competitors.
In 2017, China announced plans to spend more than $360 billion on renewable energy through 2020. Why? Because it’s looking to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. Greenpeace estimates that in 2015, China installed one wind turbine every hour of every day.
5. Climate action isn’t just about the environment – it’s about national security, health, and so much more: Curbing climate change isn’t just about melting ice sheets and shrinking salamanders (although climate change’s impacts on our environment cannot be overstated). It is also question of the health and safety of people all over the world, including in the U.S. As climate change worsens, clean air and safe drinking water are expected to decrease, and deadly heat waves, floods, and infectious diseases like malaria are expected to increase.
Additionally, military and defense officials increasingly recognize the connection between climate change and national security. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis affirmed just last month that climate change is “impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.” Climate change is a “threat multiplier” that exacerbates challenges of human health and national security, and we’re already starting to see these impacts. But by taking action today to meet the Paris Agreement, the U.S. can address climate change and avoid some of the worst impacts, while also benefiting jobs, the economy, innovation, and more.
6. We’re all in this together: In adopting the Paris Agreement, nearly every planet on Earth has agreed to do its part to cut emissions and curb global climate change. No country is immune to the impacts of climate change, and no country can address this challenge alone.
Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would send a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. doesn’t honor its commitments and would undermine our leadership and diplomatic priorities on the international stage. The global challenge of climate change can be met, but only if we meet it together.
7. Continued action in the Paris Agreement is what Americans want: If for no other reason (and I hope we’ve given you six compelling reasons!), the U.S. administration should stay in the Paris Agreement because it’s what U.S. citizens want. A nationally representative survey conducted after the 2016 elections found that Americans overwhelmingly support U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement, by a margin of 5 to 1.
The world – and Americans – overwhelmingly support the Paris Agreement. It’s good for U.S. jobs, economy, and leadership, both domestically and abroad. The global challenge of climate change requires bold collective action, and the Paris Agreement is the greatest opportunity that the United States has to join the nations of the world to protect the planet we all call home.
As officials meet to consider our future in the climate accord, we’re urging the U.S. to stay in the Paris Agreement, and we hope you will join us! Add your voice today for a brighter, safer, healthier, and more prosperous tomorrow.