Ending the Paris Agreement was one of Trump’s campaign promises, so this week’s news should come as no surprise. Naturally, many are apoplectic over Trump announcing that the US is pulling out of the climate accord, from climate scientists, journalists , and even the Pope. However, for those who support action on climate change, this news should be welcome with open arms.
Many individuals and local-level politicians are stepping up without the federal government. For example, the “Climate Mayors” pledging to uphold the Paris Agreement goals, or Michael Bloomberg offering his own money to make up the budget shortfall, this is a grassroots movement unlike any other seen in climate action (at least in the US). In fact, if I were still a research scientist, this is the week that I would take my research to a crowdfunding site and appeal to the public for funds. Through his action, President Trump has raised awareness, and the result will be increased local-level and DIY initiatives to effectuate change.
In addition, the Paris Agreement will not have an impact on real market forces. This agreement was not likely to affect oil and gas exploration, which is dependent on price. Now that the price is creeping back up again, expect exploration to follow suit. This was going to happen with or without the Paris Accord. What else can have an impact on exploration? Proof to individuals and local-level politicians that alternative energy sources are advantageous, thus cutting away at fossil fuel requirements. Such as is happening in staunchly conservative states like Arizona and Kansas, with increased adoption and reliance on the alternative energy sources of solar and wind.
This leads to a more politically ideological point. In the US, right-wing conservative generally equates to smaller government and sovereignty of the individual. Therefore, to a significant swathe of the US electorate, the Paris Accord represents a wasteful big government bullying the little person. Without the Accord hanging over people’s heads, the argument can now be framed in more palatable terms such as economic efficiency and energy independence, while allowing individual communities to decide what to do on their own terms. And what can possibly bring progressives and conservatives closer together more than decentralized, grassroots action guided by economics and an entrepreneurial spirit?