It has been predicted by environmental scientists that by the year 2030, the effects of climate change will become irreversible. In order to take on this deadline, every country must do its part in fighting climate change.
According to an annually updated study done by the USCUSA, the United States contributes to about 15% of global CO2 emissions. This makes our country the second greatest contributor to CO2 emissions, right underneath China. Climate change is a problem with urgency growing each year, and as one of the biggest contributors to it, it is vital that the United States takes its part with the rest of the world in fighting climate change.
On April 1st, 2016, Barack Obama signed the Paris Climate Agreement, adding the United States to an international and legally binding treaty with the main goal of working together to fight climate change. This agreement has now been adopted by nearly every nation in the world, with a total of 189 countries. More detailed goals of this agreement include reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale, and limiting the global temperature increase to 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels in this century. Another important goal of this agreement is to create a pathway for better developed countries to provide guidance and financial aid to developing nations on how they can reduce their emissions. These smaller, less developed nations may contribute the least to climate change, but are affected the most. For example, rising sea levels as a result of climate change could have extremely detrimental effects on a small developing nation located on an island. Climate change can also create negative impacts on human health, and in less developed countries they may not have access to the medical care that can treat the resulting illnesses. Overall, the Paris Climate Agreement created a realistic framework for monitoring the individual and collective climate goals of the countries of the world.
One of the promises Donald Trump made to his followers when he was elected in 2016 was that he would remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. As a candidate, he claimed that climate change was a “hoax”, and that the Paris Climate Agreement put the United States economy at a “permanent disadvantage”. So, on June 1st, 2017, Trump withdrew America’s position in the Paris Climate Agreement, ceasing all American participation in it. This decision was strongly opposed and criticized by environmentalists worldwide. Many argued that with America’s strong presence in contributing to climate change, it should play a strong role in fighting it.
After being absent from the Paris Climate Agreement for 3 years, many Americans were relieved that when Joe Biden began his presidency on January 20th, 2021, one of his first acts in office was re-signing the Paris Climate Agreement. Throughout his campaign, one of the main things Biden promised to Americans was to create a plan for America to fight climate change, both as an individual nation and in collaboration with the other countries of the world. In contrast to Donald Trump, Joe Biden has acknowledged climate change as a relevant issue of growing urgency, and has prioritized it as something America needs to work on.
President Biden’s recent actions taken towards climate change give hope to many who are passionate about fighting climate change. Past and present AP Environmental Science students at San Marcos shared their opinions.
“Climate change is an existential issue that needs to be addressed now, and needs to be taken very seriously,” said junior environmental science student Andie Bronstad, “I think the Biden administration has a lot of work to do, but rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement is definitely a step in the right direction!” Since today’s teenagers provide the future for our government, it is important that they have access to education including classes such as AP environmental science. Students can become educated in fields that are important to take on in the future, such as climate change.
“The United States will once again be held accountable for our actions,” said junior environmental science student Capri Gallo, “Hopefully this agreement will help lower our carbon footprint and make more sustainable choices.” Mr. Geottler, the teacher of the environmental science class at San Marcos, also shared his opinion.
“America rejoining this agreement is the first step, of hopefully many, that the Biden administration will take to reclaim the future for today’s youth here in the U.S. and around the world.”
As the second biggest contributor to global CO2 emissions, it is important that the United States participates in the worldwide battle against climate change. Although reducing these emissions and becoming a more eco-friendly country may seem like a daunting task, Joe Biden putting America back into the Paris Climate Agreement is a big step forward.