Starting today, representatives from nearly 200 countries have begun two weeks of talks aimed at addressing climate change, with the United States notably absent from the proceedings. The meeting are taking place in Poland and the representatives are signatories to the Paris climate agreement, which also aims to reduce the carbon emissions, largely from the use of fossil fuels, that are contributing to global warming. President Obama had signed on to the 2015 Paris climate accords, but President Trump, who is a climate change denier, decided to withdraw the United States from the agreement, making the U.S. the only country in the world to so withdraw. There are currently 197 countries that have signed on to the agreement. According to The Hill:
Envoys from almost 200 countries are meeting for two weeks of talks on curbing climate change starting Sunday in Poland. “We are here to enable the world to act together on climate change,” said Poland’s environmental envoy, Michal Kurtyka, who is presiding over the United Nations meeting, the Associated Press reports. The “conference of the parties,” known as COP24, is designed for the signatories of the Paris Climate Accord to discuss how they will implement their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. withdrew from the accord last year. “This is the most important COP since the signing of the agreement, and we need initiatives like yours to testify that governments, the private sector and individuals can work together to tackle climate change by committing to multilateralism,” said U.N. Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad, at a kick-off event, according to a U.N. release.
The United States stands alone among our allies in its rejection of the Paris climate agreement, due to President Trump’s withdrawal, which of course is not the only instance in which Trump has rejected a multilateral approach. This outlier status of Trump, and of the U.S. as a consequence, was again driven home yesterday at the G20 Summit in Argentina, where the leaders of 19 of the 20 countries present reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate agreement, but Trump alone reaffirmed his rejection of it. Trump, notoriously nonscientific in his thinking, has rejected the consensus of the scientific community, rejected the recent report on climate change prepared by his own administration, and rejected the stance all of our allies have taken on this issue. Christiana Figueres, a former head of the U.N. climate office, spoke of Trump’s outlier status and lack of scientific understanding, saying, according to The Associated Press, “It is sad that the federal administration of the United States, a country that is increasingly feeling the full force of climate impacts, continues to refuse to listen to the objective voice of science when it comes to climate change. The rest of the G-20 have not only understood the science, they are taking actions to both prevent the major impacts and strengthen their economies.”