Headwinds of Climate Change Resistance Were Weakened This Week

By: Patty L. Buchanan

President-Elect Joe Biden has been clear and consistent throughout his campaign and in his messaging since the polls closed on November 3:  He intends to prioritize action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to rejoin the Paris Agreement.  Regardless of various positions on many issues that were in play during this election (I do not support all of the Biden policy agenda), I wholly embrace this electoral development because Croton100’s and CURE100’s missions align with the science and spirit of the Paris Agreement.  You’ve probably heard quite a bit about the Paris Agreement, here’s a refresher on some of its highlights:

“The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework. Further information on key aspects of the Agreement can be found here.

The Paris Agreement opened for signature on 22 April 2016 – Earth Day – at UN Headquarters in New York.  It entered into force on 4 November 2016, 30 days after the so-called “double threshold” (ratification by 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions) had been met. 

Photo Credit: Mary Altaffar, Associate Press, USA Today April 22, 2016 UN Assembly

Since then, more countries have ratified and continue to ratify the Agreement, reaching a total of 125 Parties in early 2017. The current number of ratifications can be found here.”

The Paris Agreement is a non-binding framework to curb global emissions.  It is not a Treaty; it does not require the United States to do anything.  It is, nonetheless, important because it sets standards by which countries must abide in recognition of their contributions to global warming and in furtherance of their responsibilities to take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  

Consistent with several years of run-up to pull out from the Agreement, the Trump Administration moved forward with the official withdrawal process on November 4, 2019, to take effect on November 4, 2020 (the day after the presidential election).  This withdrawal, along with the Trump Administration’s rollback of 100 environmental protection regulations and policies, created strong headwinds for greenhouse gas emission reduction action. 

Indeed, the lack of national leadership heightened the need for grassroots efforts to educate and advocate for localized carbon reduction practices and policies.

The seeds for Croton100 were sown during this time.  In solidarity with many others in the global community, Croton’s Care for Creation Ministry led a coalition in Croton’s Rise for Climate March on September 8, 2018, bringing crowds of people to the streets of the Village, and with the Croton Village Government adopting a Resolution “That the Mayor and Trustees of Croton-on-Hudson, NY, do pledge to take further meaningful action within their authority to accelerate a transition to renewable power creation and sustainable living processes within our village.”

Photo Credit: Andrew Courtney; Crotonites Marching for Climate Action September 8, 2018
Photo Credit: Andrew Courtney; Village Trustees Ian Murtaugh, Sherry Horowitz, Ann Galelli and Mayor Brian Pugh, Climate Action Rally at Municipal Building September 8, 2018

These local actions continued to build as the global responses to the need for action also escalated by reports like the UN’s Science Report about the risks of exceeding global warming above 1.5° C, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report and Pope Francis’s Call to Action in Laudato Si.

To summarize: The world has continued to warm, Croton100 and CURE100 were formed to reduce GHG emissions through grassroots education and advocacy in the face of national leadership headwinds.  The national leadership has changed, there is a renewed commitment to align national policy with the global community and scientific information about the irreversible perils if we do not take rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

So today, I breathe a sigh of relief, the headwinds resisting necessary action to reduce GHG emissions have been weakened.  I am hopeful that in the times ahead, the work of Croton100 and CURE100 will be supported by national policies that align with our mission. 

*Editor’s Note:  We typically avoid partisan opinions in this Blog space.  Covering the topic of such a significant development as the election of a leader who embraces our responsibilities for acknowledging our contributions to global warming and the obligations to change our relationships with carbon emissions falls within our Blog guidelines because this is not a partisan issue, it is a factual development following a partisan election. Croton100 and CURE100 welcome all those who share the goal of reducing GHG emissions, regardless of party affiliation.

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