When Donald Trump decided to withdraw support for the Paris agreement on climate change signed by 195 countries, he seemed to turn his back on science by creating a historical division with its European partners.
The withdrawal is a milestone, as the United States is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world: 25% of global CO2 emissions (China is the first, with 30% and the European Union as a group produces 9%).
However, the message is more symbolic than tactical. Obama’s proposals to reduce emissions by 20-28% by 2025 had already been quickly dismantled by Trump and his Scott Pruitt, the most fundamentalist denialist of climate change, now head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition, the Paris Agreement is not binding unlike the Kyoto Protocol (which George W. Bush abandoned in 2001 and yet the fight against climate change continued and won important supporters, such as China). In the Paris Agreement, each country is free to decide its own way on how to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. So the United States not only remains sultry in denying evidence of climate effects, but it also loses the great opportunity to lead the era of sustainable development, that will bring more work and economic growth.
France seems to take advantage of the opportunities offered by history and the newly elected president Macron has quickly appropriated the fight against climate change. In that line, he announced a new Summit on 12 December in Paris to take further action and lead the fight against climate change.
At GlobalCAD we have spent years working to mitigate the effects of climate change, helping governments, international organizations and private companies reduce their emissions and designing strategies to help adapt and mitigate their effects. We also help these organizations to promote a step by step transition towards more sustainable and less polluting economies.
We have worked in countries as diverse as Trinidad and Tobago, the Maldives, Surabaya in Indonesia, Georgia or Costa Rica and developed strategic plans so that these territories would work on contaminating less and generating healthier societies with more sustainable resources.
For example, we are currently managing a project in Timor-Leste with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) where we support the government in designing national strategies to promote integrated coastal zone management and adaptation plans.
To sum up, at GlobalCAD we believe that it is important to take advantage of the opportunities offered by history. In this sense, combating climate change, uniting forces between countries, creating partnerships between the public and the private sector, developing more sustainable business models and more eco-efficient economies, will not only improve the relationship we have with our environment. It will also provide us with a great opportunity to create new economic systems that do not condition our future or the capacity of the next generations to build their own.