On 4 November, the day after the presidential election, the US is poised to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The agreement, which came together after years of diplomacy by the Obama administration and other global leaders, commits 200 countries to chart a new course in efforts to combat climate change.
But very soon the United States may not be one of them.
The Paris climate agreement sets out a global framework to try to stop dangerous climate change and, for the first time, the world’s major carbon emitters stood side by side and committed to do better. But just months after he took office, Donald Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the agreement and would no longer take collective responsibility for the future of the planet.
Since then, Trump has continued to actively work against measures that could tackle the climate crisis. His administration has removed countless environmental protections, boosted the fossil fuel industry, buried the federally mandated National Climate Assessment report, disappeared climate change science from US government websites, and helped foster an anti-science atmosphere throughout his administration.
America’s modern commitment to environmentalism took root exactly 50 years ago when Earth Day protests led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air and Water Act. In just four years, the Trump administration has set about dismantling much of the progress that has been made. By withdrawing from the Paris agreement it will now weaken the global resolve to tackle the climate crisis.
The stakes could scarcely be higher. With your help we can put this issue at the center of our 2020 election coverage. The election will be a referendum on the future of democracy, racial justice, the supreme court, and so much more. But hovering over all of these is whether the US will play its role in helping take collective responsibility for the future of the planet.
The period since the Paris agreement was signed has been the five hottest years on record. If carbon emissions continue, substantial climate change is unavoidable.
Over the next 100 days, Guardian US will publish a series of stories about the many impacts of the climate crisis. The series will focus on people of color and vulnerable communities across the globe, who are uniquely exposed to the dangers of a heating planet. We will examine Joe Biden’s proposals to tackle climate change and whether they are up to the task. And we will elevate the young people whose futures will be shaped by the crisis and the world’s response to it. The series is sponsored by We Are Still In and We Mean Business, but the content is editorially independent from the sponsors.
On 21 September, during Climate Week, we will join with Covering Climate Now and some of the world’s leading media organizations to highlight first-time voters facing a future of environmental peril. We have invited these voters to apply to be Guardian US guest editors on that day.
We would like your help with this project. The Guardian has long led on climate journalism, even when other outlets were hesitant to report on the issue with the urgency it requires. Earlier this year, we renounced fossil fuel advertising.
Like other news organizations, the Guardian has been hit hard by the collapse of advertising revenue resulting from the pandemic. As a result, we rely to a greater extent on support from our readers. We have chosen to keep our journalism free, because we believe everyone needs and deserves access to high quality reporting on the climate crisis and the other pressing issues of the day.
We hope you’ll consider contributing today to support the Guardian and make our journalism even more impactful.