The president’s announcement that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement was not unexpected. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was the centerpiece of the U.S. commitment under the Agreement and the president scuttled that months ago, leaving us unlikely to meet our goal.
The president’s oft-repeated objective to “make America great again” has rather, through his actions, diminished the U.S. in the eyes of the world to an unprecedented degree. He has aligned us with Syria and Nicaragua, two countries that did not sign the Agreement for vastly different reasons, and placed us in opposition to the other 194 countries of the world.
The responses to his announcement, both nationally and internationally, have been heartening. Individuals, local and state governments, and businesses have expressed their determination to meet our commitment under the Agreement. This effort is made more difficult given the dysfunction in the legislative branch and the ignorance and malevolence in the executive branch.
As a result, Americans will need to take to the streets even more than we did during the civil rights movement. Not with marches to express our demands, but with massive, sustained protests at those businesses and industries most responsible for carbon emissions.
For example, we can achieve the goals of the CPP by demanding that electric utility companies come into compliance with the state-by-state requirements of the CPP within the timeframe specified, preferably earlier.
We can sweeten the pot by urging public utility commissions to increase the profit margin for a decade for regulated utilities if they accelerate actions to meet their requirements under the CPP.
On the political side, we must repeatedly remind our senators and congresspersons that they will only qualify for our vote if they push for climate change mitigation. Opposition to that guarantees them no vote. While the prospect of voting for a candidate not in the party we favor may seem unappealing, we must remain mindful that the stakes could not be higher: we have a narrow window of time during which we can prevent devastating and irreversible changes to our planet. We cannot postpone action, and voting is one of the easiest ways to effect change. Perhaps this will prompt some politicians to give priority to country over party.
Consider one aspect of the natural world that you love. Now picture that aspect being ruined. All Earth changes as the climate changes. Act, if for no other reason, in your self-interest.
Let us take action as never before in response to a crisis never before experienced.