On World Environment Day, Innovation Trumps Politics

A message from Laura Deaton, executive director at Trust for Conservation Innovation:

June 5th is World Environment Day. Today is a new beginning, or it least it can be.

When the President of the United States decided to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement last week, there was a palpable sense of disappointment among our programs and their partners, who together strive 24/7/365 to protect and foster a healthy, sustainable, resilient, and equitable world. The Agreement, which was signed by 195 countries including the US, includes country-specific pledges to cut the greenhouse gas emissions which drive global warming, a key contributor to climate change. With this move, China is now poised to step into the void left by the President’s surrender of the US’s role as the global leader in climate change policy, putting the US in the same league as Syria and Nicaragua, the only other countries not participating in the agreement.

Marking a break with decades of bipartisan support for globally-focused US foreign policy, President Trump justified this action by claiming that withdrawing from the Agreement would remove “the draconian financial and economic burdens” imposed by the agreement.  Yet, the latest polls suggest that the President is out of step with the majority of Americans across all party lines. For example, a recent poll by Yale University found that 7 in 10 registered voters (69%) think the US should take part in the agreement compared with only 13% who say the US should not.

In the face of this disconnect, a groundswell of interwoven US-based support for the Agreement is building momentum.  As of today, the Governors of California, Washington, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Puerto Rico have boldly come forward and refused to back down from America’s commitments. Nearly 200 mayors from rural and urban areas throughout the country have also vowed to reduce emissions and adopt clean energy technology.

June 5th is World Environment Day.  President Trump may have walked away from the Paris Agreement, but that’s all the more reason for us to shine an even brighter light on innovation, on advocacy, and on the power of communities to create change. Our voices matter.  Our work is making a difference. It’s time to amplify and magnify the impact that we have every day.  Now, more than ever, it’s our opportunity to be a beacon of innovation whose light shines every day on the plethora of opportunities we still have to preserve and protect this planet and its inhabitants for future generations.

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