Tuesday, 21 November 2017

How the Paris Climate Agreement Withdraw Affects Farming in the USA

How the Paris Agreement Withdraw Affects Farming in the USA

US President Donald Trump made headlines around the world when he announced he would start the process of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. Only two other countries – Syria and Nicaragua –  have declined to be part of the Agreement. Impressively, Nicaragua refused to sign on because the agreement doesn’t go far enough to curb global warming. Elsewhere, the agreement is seen as a major step towards a globally coordinated long-term strategy for tackling climate change.

When former US President Barack Obama originally attempted to get Agreement ratified by Congress, he was blocked. Thus, it was never enshrined in law. All that Obama could do was enact an executive order to instruct the federal government to implement the Agreement’s requirements. With Donald Trump now in the White House, that executive order will be cancelled.

How did the Agreement relate to agriculture?

The central principles of the Agreement focus on sustainable development and pollution reduction. On the face of it, it’s easy to assume that fewer regulations for US farmers would be a positive thing. However, the opposite is true. The long-term impact a withdraw from the agreement will have on farmers will be significant.

In regions that are already impacted by food scarcity, the Paris Agreement was seen as merely a good start with much more action needed to tackle the long-term problems posed by climate change. There is widespread support too within the agriculture industry for adopting eco-friendly practices.

In an open letter to the White House, the US National Farmers’ Union urged President Trump to stay within the Paris Agreement, saying that ‘farmers are on the front lines of climate change’. The letter also highlighted that many jobs within the farming sector are linked to environmental innovation and research. Many involve the development of alternative power sources. At present, many farms continue to use outdated, coal-based forms of power. So Trump’s insistence on putting coal first removes the impetus to find new, environmentally friendly solutions within the agriculture sector.

Experts have also stated that those farms that fail to adapt to modern technologies and today’s environmental constraints will inevitably suffer financially. Pulling out of the Paris Agreement encourages complacency and stagnation.

What each of us can do

Already, opposition to Trump’s decision is fierce and vocal, with 246 mayors from across the US issuing a joint statement to say they intend to comply with the obligations laid down in the Paris Climate Agreement.  

It’s not just civic representatives, individuals can make a real difference too. Buying local produce cuts down on food miles and helps to reduce vehicle emissions. Thinking more carefully about food shopping can also help, by reducing the amount of food waste that is produced. A more considered and sensible approach to food shopping can dramatically reduce the amount of waste food sent to landfills and cut weekly grocery bills.

A Rallying Cry?

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a major setback for Progressives. Many on the left will see it as a rallying cry. But how many rallying cries must we have before the progressive movement seizes real power?

As Democrat John Ossoff sputtered to a $22 million dollar defeat in a campaign that spewed corporate-establishment more-of-the-same kind of stuff, Progressives collectively think: Have the Democrats learned anything yet? Are they losing on purpose? This can’t last forever – right?

 

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Ryan Black is a documentary filmmaker, political consultant, and digital media professional who writes about Progressive Politics.

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