In U.S. withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement, Congress must act to safeguard wildlife

As delegates from over 190 countries gathered in Germany in early May to discuss key details on operationalizing the Paris Agreement – the landmark global commitment to limit carbon pollution and avoid the most severe impacts of climate change – one question lingered heavily in the air: will the U.S. withdraw from the Agreement, or live up to its commitment?

American Leadership at Stake

Yesterday, the White House announced that the U.S. will drop out of the Paris Climate Agreement, jeopardizing the United States’ leadership in global affairs and our best opportunity to address a changing climate.

Ask Congress to call for a continued commitment to climate action.

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As the world’s second largest emitter of climate pollution and the largest economy, the participation of the U.S. is needed to have any hope of limiting the global average temperature increase to the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. While many experts speculate that the Paris Agreement will be undermined by the U.S. withdrawal, the U.S.’s position is so extreme that many other players (yes, even China), are now distancing themselves from our position by reiterating their support for the Agreement and their national pledges to reduce carbon pollution.

Climate matters for wildlife, people, and the economy

By taking a backseat on cooperative climate action, defunding important climate research programs, and rolling back regulations that limit carbon pollution, the Trump administration is creating a blueprint for a legacy of dire consequences for the well-being of future generations and wildlife.

The world is already facing a massive wildlife crisis, with populations declining and species extinctions rising well beyond natural rates. Without significant and immediate action on climate change, this crisis and wildlife habitat loss will be further exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, including droughts, hurricanes, and wildfires. Alaskan caribou populations are already in decline by as much as 57 percent from historic levels as a result of a changing climate.

The outdoor economy is thriving, with an increasing number of people seeking to spend time in the outdoors/Nicole Flores

Changes in weather patterns have increased the number of ice storms and warmer temperatures have led to more mosquitoes and flies, which cause the caribou to flee grazing areas and make it hard for caribou to access the lichen they graze on. This leads to a decrease in weight gain and means that it’s harder for calves to survive the winter and for adults to reproduce. This is one reason why forward thinking decisions and accelerated action plans to mitigate climate change are needed at this critical juncture – the decisions made today can have a profound effect on the resilience of natural systems and the health of wildlife populations tomorrow. For this reason, National Wildlife Federation and many of its affiliates urged the Trump Administration to remain an active and constructive participant in the Paris climate agreement.

Neglecting to take action on climate change will have pervasive negative impacts on the U.S. beyond the direct effect on wildlife and wildlife habitat. Thriving wildlife populations and healthy ecosystems are the backbone of a vibrant and growing outdoor recreation industry, which contributes $887 billion to the national economy each year and supports more than 7.6 million jobs. Failing to address climate issues poses serious threats for the communities that depend on wildlife and the outdoors and will undoubtedly hinder the growth potential of the outdoor industry.

Actively mitigating climate change is good for the country and business too, helping to safeguarding investments, maintain global competitiveness, minimize risks, stimulate economic growth, and support job creation. In fact, America’s clean energy sector alone supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, attracts billions of dollars of investment, and continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. The need to take action on climate change and support the clean energy economy is recognized by a number of high profile investors and companies, including Apple, Google, and Walmart, who have signed letters to urge President Trump and governments to stay the course and commit to fulfilling their Paris Agreement goals.

As businesses concerned with the well-being of our customers, our investors, our communities, and our suppliers, we are strengthening our climate resilience… For this transition to succeed, however, governments must lead as well. We urge that the United States remain a party to the Paris Agreement… We believe that as other countries invest in advanced technologies and move forward with the Paris Agreement, the United States can best exercise global leadership and advance U.S. interests by remaining a full partner in this vital global effort.” 

Letter to President Trump from several Fortune 100 Companies

Climate Action is Needed Now

Growth in renewable energy has helped the U.S. achieve significant carbon emissions reductions. A strong commitment to the Paris agreement will help ensure we stay on the path to limit the grave impacts of climate change/Don Sniegowski

There has been great progress over the past few years to reduce carbon emissions, mitigate climate change, and safeguard communities and wildlife. Thanks to these efforts, which includes strong growth in renewable and hydroelectric power, U.S. carbon emissions reached their lowest level since 1991. It’s important to ramp up these actions and build on what has been done, rather than tearing it down, to ensure that the world continues to achieve necessary carbon pollution reductions to support global communities and thriving wildlife populations for generations to come. The U.S. cannot afford to be left behind as the world takes collective action to move forward on climate action.

Please help National Wildlife Federation call for continued progress on climate action. Tell your members of Congress that we need to stay course with ambitious goals to ensure protections for people and wildlife!

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