Q. Is there a way that we, as individual Americans, can still follow the Paris climate agreement, now that the Trump administration has decided to pull the United States out of the international deal to fight climate change?
Meredith D. via Twitter [edited for clarity]
A. Like so many Americans, you’re suddenly paying a lot more attention to what’s going in the scintillating field of international climate diplomacy.
So let’s do a little refresher. The Paris climate treaty is an international agreement to limit warming through voluntary goals. It’s ostensibly a giant good-faith handshake to fight climate change. And last week, President Trump joined a very tiny and swag club consisting of Syria and Nicaragua in saying, “No thank you! Let go of my hand!” The Paris Agreement is a pretty lax approach to climate diplomacy, so dropping out is an embarrassing move to make.
Whew! Technically, the United States doesn’t have to be part of the Paris Agreement to achieve its goal — cutting 2005-era carbon emissions by 28 percent by 2025. So let’s get to it. There are some obvious steps you could take to shrink your carbon impact as one little Meredith: eat less meat, take the bus, stop lighting garbage piles on fire for fun.
But those can only go so far. If we took the individual action route, everyone would have to shrink their carbon footprint by 70 percent, according to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe — and in these trying times, who can remove the joy of burning garbage piles from one’s life? The better bet is to push for local, state, and — yes — national legislation that will push for cleaner energy and tackle carbon emissions.
How do you do that? It sounds like a Big Abstract Thing. I talked to some local political organizers and climate scientists and it basically comes down to: If you want climate action, let your elected officials know about it — and get a bunch of other people to do that, too.
Sara Innamorato is the cofounder of She Runs SWPA, which encourages women to run for local office. (She’s just announced that she’s challenging the incumbent Democratic state representative in Pennsylvania’s District 21.) She says the first step is just knowing…