Climate Leadership after Paris

Posted by Lissa Widoff on Wednesday, June 14 2017

Fellows:

Lissa Widoff

We may be past the news cycle that focused on the dramatic but not totally surprising move by President Trump to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, but as a foundation long committed to environmental leadership, we see the signs of positive climate leadership that have been here all along.  Actions and commitments by states, cities, NGOs, business leaders and the academic and policy research community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets  agreed upon in the Paris talks 18 months ago, represent collaborative and collective leadership that can overcome at least some of the abdication of responsibility represented by Trump’s action.

The move to pull out of the Paris agreement was not a huge surprise, given this administration’s early attack on the Clean Power Plan, a main means by which the US was going to meet its commitment.  The fallacy of assuming there is a means to bring back the coal industry to its former glory is also sadly misplaced, especially when renewable energy is becoming more accepted, available and lower priced. Efficiencies in energy use remain both a source of innovation, job growth and part of a cleaner future for us all.

The dramatic focus on Trump’s ill-advised but predictable decision clouds the many successes and the momentum already underway for a low carbon future. Whether the Paris agreement is enough to avert the projected increases in global temperature remains in question, but the risk of inaction is too great for us to sit quietly by.

The future lies in positive action individually and collectively. Switzer Fellows will continue to lead on a variety of climate, energy and related issues through their academic, business, government and non-profit work. Their efforts, and those of their colleagues in all sectors, give us hope and confidence that collectively we do have the will and capacity to make a difference on this global issue. We applaud those whose work and lives remain committed to the keystone issue of our generation.

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