People Around the World March for Climate Action and Paris

A critical step to ensuring that we deliver stronger climate action is to ensure that world leaders follow through on the Paris Agreement.
Photos: Marching to defend the Paris Agreement, April 2017 (left); NRDC at the climate march in New York City, Sept 2014 (right).

In September 2014, over 400,000 people took to the streets in New York to urge leaders to adopt an ambitious international climate agreement. World leaders listened to these voices and the tens of millions more around the world when they adopted the Paris Climate Agreement that includes commitments to reduce climate pollution from all key countries. After the agreement was gaveled home the focus turned quickly to the domestic actions to ensure that countries rapidly achieve their targets.

So when the People’s Climate March reconvened to mark the 100th day of Trump’s presidency, the voices around the world weren’t telling leaders to agree to more climate ambition. Instead, the 200,000+ in Washington and hundreds of thousands more in cities around the world were reminding leaders that they want more climate action. They were telling leaders that they weren’t going to let politicians get in the way of a better future for our children and grandchildren.

A critical step to ensuring that we deliver stronger climate action is to ensure that world leaders follow through on the Paris Agreement. Countries need to both meet their current commitments and ensure they are delivering stronger action in the years to come. Staying in the Paris Agreement should be a no-brainer for President Trump but unfortunately he continues sends mixed signals. Staying in the Paris Agreement and delivering stronger U.S. action is in America’s interest.

Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would turn the U.S. into a global outcast and make it harder for Trump to secure commitments from other countries to work with him on national security, trade, and other diplomatic priorities. World leaders won’t want to work with Trump on his priorities if he has just “stuck a finger in their eye” on the Paris Agreement. Leaders showed that the Paris Agreement is a top priority for them as they personally invested a huge amount of effort to secure the agreement in the first place. At a record pace they formally joined the agreement, showing that they are committed to delivering on the agreement. These leaders invested significant political capital at home to help push the Paris Agreement from an idea to an agreement and now into action

Smart politicians have to listen to their constituents. And their constituents—the people in the streets at climate marches around the world over the weekend—just reinforced that they won’t support politicians that fail to stand up for stronger climate action. So why would any leader want to tell their constituents that they are willing to stand with a leader like Trump if he signals he wants to be a climate outcast? There will be major blowback for any President or Prime Minister that aligns with President Trump if he withdraws from the Paris Agreement.      

The people are showing where they stand and what they will accept when it comes to climate leadership.