The United States joins Syria, Nicaragua & Russia in deciding not to participate with world’s Paris Agreement. It’s now up to cities to lead
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) June 1, 2017
If you are an environmentalist, you have spent a lot of the last four months worrying about our future. Since January you have probably been arguing for a robust EPA, pointing out the importance of research into alternative energy sources, and trying to demonstrate the value of investments in the Great Lakes or the Chesapeake Bay. Yesterday, we learned that the U.S. will join Syria as the lone countries not participating in the Paris Climate Accord. (There were three others, but Russia decided to reaffirm the accords and Nicaragua is not a member because it doesn’t believe that the accords go far enough).
It is time for us to admit that the coalition currently in power nationally in the U.S. does not believe we face serious environmental issues. So, what can we do?
Make Strategic Choices: Cities and states across the country reacted to the announcement that we are leaving the Paris Accords with strong statements about how they continue to work toward decreasing carbon outputs. Cities hold vast potential to impact climate change. I am not arguing to give up the mass protests or to stop calling your representatives. Just that now is the time to attend city council meetings, zoning board meetings, and/or meet with your mayor to voice your concerns and suggest ways that your city can limit its impact on climate change.
Play the Long Game: A friend of mine said, “If we don’t have a youth strategy to deal with climate change, then we have no strategy at all.” Think about it, climate change won’t be addressed in our lifetimes or even the lifetimes of our children. Climate change is around for generations and we need to prepare young people for the long process of mitigating impacts, developing resilient cities and adapting to a changing world. It is not enough for people to understand climate change (most Americans wanted us to stay in the Paris Accords). We need to educate people to put their understanding of science to work to create policies and practices that protect the planet.
I find the tweet at the top of this post (from the Mayor of Pittsburgh) reassuring. At the local level a growing number of politicians understand that it is not a zero sum game between environment and the economy and that we don’t have to make choices that harm our long-term prospects to protect our short-term needs.
Our time to act is now – engage locally and play the long game.
Vince Meldrum is an experienced leader with a 25-year history of transforming organizations through program development, innovative technology, and cross-sector partnerships. Vince’s expertise brings Earth Force into the center of the climate resiliency movement. With a specific focus on people, having built several large-scale partnerships, Vince offers a unique perspective on the role of community and youth in the future of our environment.