John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, served as counselor to President Barack Obama and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.
A majority of Americans have come to expect the worst of President Trump, and he seems incapable of defying that expectation. His decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement takes him well beyond his cynical populist appeals and deep into the territory of know-nothingism. Unfortunately, he is dragging America and its prestige there with him.
Negotiating the Paris accord was complicated and required determined American diplomacy and the leadership of President Barack Obama, but the reason that 195 nations signed the agreement and made ambitious national commitments is rather simple: The science clearly shows that the world is warming at a rapid pace. If we collectively fail to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, our children and grandchildren will face higher sea levels, more violent storms, disrupted food supplies, catastrophic loss of infrastructure, climate-induced human migration and global insecurity.
The rejection of this global consensus is likely to further alienate our closest allies and hobble U.S. diplomacy on other priorities, from security to trade. In addition to damaging U.S. strategic interests, the future of the American economy is at stake. While other countries will lead the global transition to clean energy, particularly China and the European Union, Trump and his allies in Congress are undermining America’s innovative businesses and workers. Renewable energy supports between 4 million and 4.5 million jobs in the United States, and renewable-energy capacity has more than tripled since 2008. That’s why the majority of Americans in every state support the Paris agreement and why thousands of businesses and investors worth trillions of dollars are calling for climate action. Trump’s “America first” strategy is putting America last in the race to create the clean-energy jobs and industries of the future.
This attack on the environment and our future must be a call to action to every American. Climate change is real and happening now, and we have the power to slow it down. Governors, mayors and leaders from every sector must stand with the rest of the world to fight climate change, and Americans everywhere must do their part to make their voices heard.
Because of the terms of the agreement, it will take until 2020 for the United States to fully exit. That means that the battle lines are formed for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Every politician between now and then must answer the question of whether she or he stands with Trump and fossil-fuel special interests or stands with the health and well-being of our children and our planet.
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