Eleven-year-old American Barron William Trump was born in 2006. If he has the current average lifespan of a white American male, he will live in to the 2080s. It is possible that well before the end of Barron’s life the world will have begun descending into chaos caused by out of control global warming.
But in December 2015 the nations of the world decided to write a different future for young Barron’s generation. The historic Paris Climate Agreement was intended to secure a just global transition to clean energy with the ambition to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees.
The various national emissions targets set out in Paris were themselves never going to be enough, but they set out a clear pathway. Barack Obama famously described the Paris deal as “the moment the world decided to save the planet”.
Earlier today Obama’s successor and Barron’s father, US President Donald Trump, decided that he preferred the road to global ruin, pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement. Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement is a betrayal of his youngest child’s future and of the world at a critical time in the international struggle to avert cataclysmic climate change.
The US pulling out of Paris is bad news, but it comes as no surprise. The US President has made himself the commander in chief of the global corporate polluters club. Trump once said he did not even believe in human-induced climate change and has infamously claimed that the ‘concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive’. The irony may turn out to be that Trump’s recalcitrance could yet facilitate China’s further rise, both economically and politically.
We cannot underestimate the enormity of Trump’s act, nor the danger it represents to a planet on the precipice. The United States is still the biggest national economy in the world and the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. But the fightback has already begun.
Across the world, nations are united against Trump on global warming. The US is now in effect completely isolated on climate policy. President Trump is like a great big child flouncing off to sulk alone in a corner while everybody else gets on with things. By turning the US from a global climate leader into a cheerleader for the flat earth society, Trump has made himself into an international pariah. The rest of the world’s major parties to the Paris Agreement — including China, the EU and India — have all signalled they remain firmly committed to the deal. There are 194 other countries who are party to the pact, accounting for 87 percent of global carbon emissions.
And although Trump is the President of the United States, he is not the United States. All over the US, cities, states, communities, businesses and individuals are determined to keep acting to cut carbon pollution. These Americans not only accept the science and are determined to secure a better world, they want to honour the promise that was made in their name under the Paris Agreement — and they include the majority of Trump voters.
All over the US and the world, people are organising, sure in the knowledge that working together people can achieve anything. We have the shared will and the creativity to make the transition to a just and fair clean energy world, whatever destructive tantrums Donald Trump might throw along the way.
Australia’s role in all of this is clear. As Prime Minister Turnbull has said of the Paris Agreement: “When Australia makes a commitment to a global agreement, we follow through”.
We must stand with the rest of the world on the Paris Agreement because global climate action is a moral obligation to protect people and our planet — as well as being in our national interest. The overwhelming majority of Australians want more action to cut carbon pollution and bring on the clean energy revolution.
Trump may be blinded by fossil fuel dollar signs, but the clean energy revolution is now unstoppable. The transition is already embedded in economic, social and technological trends that are bigger than any one country. Even Australia’s energy minister Josh Frydenberg has admitted that when it comes to renewables “there is an irreversible transformation taking place”.
Across the world, our message to Trump should be clear: we will resist. Trump may be willing to turn his back on the future of his youngest child and of our planet, but we are not. The Trump Presidency will pass. The future remains ours to win.