June 1 has not previously been known as a significant historical date, until last year perhaps, when US President Trump announced America’s intended withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
The announcement was a momentous miscalculation from the 45th president of the US – the day on which Trump chose the wrong side of history and turned his back on the global fight against climate change.
Close to 200 countries agreed in Paris to unite around the common goal of limiting global warming to ‘well below 2 degrees, pursuing 1.5 degrees’ Celsius and to put an end to the fossil fuel age. War-torn Syria and Nicaragua were the last two countries to become Paris signatories last year, leaving the US alone among nations on climate change.
Since then, the world has three times reaffirmed their commitment to climate action – in Morocco when nations vowed to move ahead at the UN climate talks in 2016, in Italy at the G7 Summit in 2017 and again at the G20 Summit soon after – proving that the world will not wait for US leadership.
Instead of undermining the fight against climate change by abandoning Paris, Trump has galvanised global climate action and the US administration has become further isolated despite its best attempts to market its fossil fuels to the world.
We witnessed in America’s Pledge how governors, cities, businesses and US citizens came together, committed to climate action and declaring ‘We’re still in’. In the past year, a growing number of cities have passed commitments to go 100 percent renewable.
We’ve also seen the resolve of non-state actors at the One Planet Summit in Paris in December. Held on the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the summit saw the World Bank announce an end to its financing of upstream oil and gas projects, sending a damning no confidence vote to the fossil fuel industry.
Similar signals are likely to happen at the Global Climate Action Summit in California this September when non-state actors will show how the real economy is committed to climate action.
Summit host and California governor Jerry Brown can also truly show Trump what America’s Pledge means by saying no to new fossil fuel infrastructure. This is what Americans are demanding of their politicians following Trump’s Paris withdrawal.
The type of leadership the world needs can be found in New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is prepared to move ahead by banning new offshore oil and gas exploration. That decision was the culmination of seven years of climate activism and reflects the growing strength and diversity of the climate movement.
That strength is found in individual and collective resolve and in the year since Trump announced his abdication of responsibility, we’ve seen the true face of the climate movement:
- Crowdfunded solar lighting for an off-grid Johannesburg community
- People prepared to say no to oil pipelines in the defence of clean water
- Communities demanding climate justice in the Philippines
- Indonesia saying no to new coal-fired power plants on the island of Java
- Banks prepared to set new standards in fossil fuel divestment
- The world’s biggest sovereign fund, Norway’s oil fund, announcing its intention to remove all oil and gas stocks from its index
These are just some of the many examples of how the world is moving ahead and like the Profiles of Paris, these are the stories of hope and action that must drive us forward. Leaders must now show Trump what climate leadership truly means and make bold decisions to accelerate the clean energy transition.
June 1 might now be an infamous day for Trump, but it’s just one day in the calendar and even on this day and the other 364 days of the year, the battle to save the climate continues and is accelerating and flexing its muscles.
You can too – join the movement to meet the Paris goals and demand change!
Jennifer Morgan is Executive Director of Greenpeace International