When will Trump have his Damascus road experience?

So he’s done it. After months of speculation President Trump has announced the US will be exiting the Paris Accord on tackling climate change.

It is disappointing that President Trump does not see the opportunity for economic growth which clean energy presents; what the world is now waiting for is his Damascus road experience. We need that dramatic reversal of position in the near future. But if we have to wait 4 years, some experts say that wouldn’t be too disastrous – whereas if we had 8 years of the same rolling back progress on climate change, that would be a game changer.

Consequences of Trump’s policies

“Four years of the Trump administration may have only modest consequences, but eight years of bad policy would probably wreck the world’s chances of keeping warming below the international target of 2 degrees Celsius, the odds of our avoiding the climate-danger zone would fade to zero.” Bloomberg reported comments made by Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

What is worrying is the time lag it takes to see the positive impact of policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change. If the US seeks to negotiate a new deal or revised terms aimed largely at protecting American jobs, and pulls international climate adaptation funds that help the poorest people globally, there are catastrophic ramifications, as this graph shows.  

graph for blog

Ref: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-30/climate-danger-zone-seen-if-trump-pulls-u-s-out-of-paris-deal

The world can make progress to limit global temperature rises without the US, but not achieve the full ambition of the Paris Accord. The current commitments within the Accord make an excellent start, but don’t limit warming to below 2C, which is what is needed to halt disastrous impacts of further climate change. Meaning most countries need to up their ambition to limit global warming significantly. We need the the US, the 2nd biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, to move to a zero carbon world. Trump’s conversion moment will need some expertly timed and behind the scenes influencing and, in my view, a whole lot of prayer!

Other countries leading the way

Thankfully, many US States and cities are forging ahead with their own policies for renewable energy, creating jobs and tackling air pollution, despite some of the mis-guided views of their country’s leader.   Growing economies such as China and India are also convinced how renewable energy can be a catalyst for a booming economy, creating green jobs and flourishing businesses, while reducing carbon emissions. Let’s hope the market speaks for itself in showing how the US can be a leader in new low carbon energy solutions and how the global decline of coal can’t be reversed.

The G20 in July is the next global opportunity for renewed commitment to the Paris Accord. Will the US be left out in the cold by the other members or will they offer small steps allowing Trump to change his mind? He’s shown surprising willingness to change his mind, so far.

With the UK’s General Election less than a week away, we’ll also be looking to our Prime Minister to deliver strong leadership on climate change both within the UK and globally.  Including investing in renewable energy to power rural communities who are living in energy poverty overseas. Now, more than ever, we too need to unite in our personal commitment to living sustainably.  We’ve already seen hundreds of people and churches across the UK switch to renewable electricity in their homes through the Big Church Switch and it’s essential we continue to bolster the international community’s efforts towards a cleaner and brighter future.



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