On June 1 at 3:00 pm, President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would no longer participate in the Paris Climate Accord. The Paris Climate Accord is a landmark agreement made back in 2015 between 195 countries from around the world that strives to make sure that our Earth’s temperature does not increase more than two degrees Celsius by cutting carbon emissions – going over two degrees brings Earth into incredibly dangerous territory.
Valid scientific research proves that if Earth’s carbon emissions continue to go unchecked, its temperature will continue to rise at an astronomical rate, surely surpassing the two degree threshold. If Earth’s already high temperature increases anymore, the ice caps in Antarctica will continue to melt, only this time they will melt faster; in turn, this will cause a rising of sea levels, more powerful storms, and droughts that would lead to food shortages and other extreme conditions.
Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 of them have occurred since 2000 and the US played a large role in this as it currently is the world’s second largest emitter of carbon emissions. Due to this, withdrawing from the agreement is extremely detrimental to any progress we, as a world, have made in slowing down climate change. College students from across the US are contemplating what leaving the agreement means for the future of the world, since we are the ones who are inheriting it. Here are the reactions of eleven of them.
Kate S., sophomore, University of Connecticut
“Donald Trump just wants to ruin anything that Obama started. He doesn’t realize that pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement could have negative consequences, not just for America, but for the entire world. The United States is essentially the most major international superpower and without our nation’s support, I think the regulations lose a lot of their strength and impact… The fact that every single country in the world except Syria and Nicaragua are involved in the agreement shows that it’s what’s best for the world as a whole. American can’t be made great again if we all get wiped out by climate change.”
Samantha H.*, sophomore, SUNY Binghamton
"This new administration has [been] riddled with disorganization, incompetence, non-accountability, manipulation, self-interest, poor leadership, and disservice to Americans everywhere. It comes as no surprise Trump would withdraw from the Paris Accord. This administration has impressively done everything in its power to hurt Americans and this is another bullet point on the list. He claims he chose this course of action because [it] would be too costly for American jobs and businesses, but in reality eco-friendly jobs in solar and wind energy are some of the fastest-growing, most fruitful job-producing markets out there. Trump preaches 'America First' but by backing out of the Paris Accord, the only way America will be first is as the first country to be overtaken by rising sea levels because of climate change. Climate change and global warming is real, is an urgent issue, and whether or not the federal government chooses to believe in indisputable scientific fact, Americans at the grassroots and state governmental level must protect our planet."
Jake A.*, junior, The New School
“I support [the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement]. It will cost this country $2 trillion dollars to other countries, like India. That’s not something we need right now.”
Sarah O., sophomore, Ramapo College
“When will Donald realize that climate change is an issue? When he has to get chauffeured to Trump Tower in a rowboat because of rising sea levels? We could either invest the money now to stop the rising global temperature, or we could do it when half the country is underwater. I find it absolutely horrifying that the man in control of our country has not only cancelled an agreement to protect our planet, but does not even acknowledge that climate change is worth addressing. We’re facing the largest mass extinction of species in 65 million years, making environmental issues something that should be at the top of a president’s to do list. The Paris Climate Accord helped more than “just” the planet. It was beneficial to the economy as well. It created high paying jobs in solar, wind, and other industries. It’s time we fight for our planet, rather than just our country.”
Maya U., sophomore, University of Arkansas
“I think that from all perspectives, pulling out of the climate accord was a bad decision on Trump’s part. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you should be able to recognize the implications that this move will cost us. There is bound to be a diplomatic response to this action, and this looks especially bad since Russia and China are both signing members… On the actual environmental side, this is a huge negative for climate change activists and believers like myself. Our environment desperately needs to be protected and this is just another step backwards in our struggle. Overall, I am disappointed yet again by our president.”
Ben N., freshman, SUNY New Paltz
“I think we should’ve stayed in it and are going to die now.”
Coby O., freshman, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
”I think that this is harmful to the United States on two different levels. The first is that it is yet another coffin for everyone on Earth because not only will this exacerbate the effects of climate change, but it will legitimize those denying it, creating a negative feedback loop of more denial and less action. The second is that the decision will only widen the rift between the United States and its allies, making us have one… fewer shared goal we can work towards together.”
Maggie G., junior, Ithaca College
“To be honest, it scares me when anyone doesn’t care for our Earth in any way. When I received my BBC news alert on it, I was devastated. We, as a whole planet, need to care for it in ANY way we can. I feel he does not care about anything related to saving the climate.”
Arielle G., junior, Ramapo College
“I think it is appalling and speaks strongly to Trump’s inability to make unbiased decisions. He clearly has personal and financial investments in oil companies, and environmentalists have pushed to move away from use of oil/fossil fuels. Additionally, I think it is going to hurt our foreign relations because it makes us look super unreliable, and our foreign relations are already bad. Overall, super covfefe.”
April C., sophomore, Ramapo College
“He’s a psychopath and is trying to kill us all.”
Jacob P., freshman, Georgia Institute of Technology
"In regards to the Paris Agreement, I think that pulling out is a terrible idea. The only other UN countries not in it are Nicaragua and Syria, and, to be fair, Syria had a lot going on civil war wise and Nicaragua just thought the penalties weren't severe enough. As a big carbon dioxide contributor the US is, the relationship this is going to have on our foreign policy is going to be openly felt. What kind of precedent is that setting?"
Regardless of our President’s actions, it is very easy for each of us to do our part in working towards slowing down climate change. The department of ecology in the state of Washington outlines little things we can do to cut down on our carbon footprint that we leave on this Earth. Some of the suggestions provided are as simple as carpooling more frequently, cutting your use of hot water and recycling. Also, it is important to keep in mind that we do not officially leave the agreement until November 4, 2020, the day after the next presidential election. Therefore, climate change could be a campaign issue in the next election and a new administration could choose to rejoin the agreement. If you are unhappy with President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord, I hope to see you at the polls for the next election!
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people contributing to this article.
Lead Image Credit: Twitter