July 25, 2017 • BLOG ENTRY

We Won’t Always Have Paris

Syria, Nicaragua…and the USA Is this the new Gang of 3? The only three countries in the world to not be a part of the Paris Agreement. Why these three? Syria is in the middle of a bloody civil war that has left tens of thousands dead — they are not really focused on the planet right now. Nicaragua felt that the agreement did not go far enough. The USA? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Trump wants to be able to use his hairspray and does not want to be limited by concerns of destroying the ozone.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and his reasoning to do so is absurd.

First of all, the Paris Agreement does not require any country to do anything. It is not legally binding. It’s a voluntary agreement between 190 countries who have pledged to do their best to reduce carbon emissions. As Americans we were being asked to simply do our best. Therefore, Trump’s argument that the agreement would force us as Americans to make huge economic sacrifices while redistributing jobs to the rest of the world is bogus.

Furthermore, withdrawing from the Agreement reduces our negotiating power amongst the nations of the world. Since World War II, international diplomacy has relied upon peer pressure. There are no “go directly to jail” consequences for not abiding by most international accords. Rather, world peace and world order are generally maintained by peer pressure. By walking away from the Paris Agreement, the USA is losing its seat at the head of the table and we will lose the ability to apply pressure to other countries to behave in ways that we deem appropriate. Why do you think Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was trying to push Trump to stay in the Agreement?

Photo taken at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

Plus, a healthy planet and better jobs do not have to be at odds with each other. Rather, the clean energy sector is now creating new jobs faster than almost any other sector in the American economy. This new energy sector in America一 including energy efficiency, natural gas, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, energy storage, electric vehicles, biofuels and smart grid businesses一 now collectively generates $200 billion in annual revenues (almost the same as consumer electronics) and employs 2.7 million Americans (1). We need to be investing in the future, not the past. Here in NJ, the home of Bell Labs, we are poised to lead our country in innovation.

And finally, we need to look at the actual purpose of the Paris Agreement. It was an effort by all the nations in the world to protect our planet. To protect the air we breath, the water we drink, our farms and the beauty of the world around us. Here in the Garden State, we enjoy beautiful beaches, lakes, streams, hiking trails, farmlands, and open spaces. It not only enhances our personal well-being, but brings tourism and money into New Jersey. Once again, Trump’s policies are hitting our wallets.

I am not a scientist. But scientists have studied the issue of climate change and have proven it to be true. This is a fact, not a belief. I am, however, a student of government and I know that alienating every nation, except for Syria and Nicaragua, is dangerous. A backwards nationalist agenda not only hurts us on the world stage, but will hurt us economically, as well. Besides, we are Americans. We are leaders and innovators. We need to retain our rightful place at the head of the table.

  1. Nesbit, Jeff. “Clean Energy Is Seeing Monumental Job Growth”. USNews & World Report. 15 March 2017. 5 June 2017.