Editor’s note: Grace Ji-Sun Kim attended the 2015 United Nations climate change convention as a journalist, and in 2016 as an observer. This article reflects her opinions.
I attended the meeting in Paris in December 2015 where heads of state around the world formulated the Paris Agreement on climate change – what was formally known as the 21st meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). The United States, under President Obama, joined 196 other countries in consenting to the Paris accord. It is the most promising global agreement to date to tackle the problem of climate change, an environmental phenomenon that is having devastating effects on the earth.
I was also present in November at the COP22 gathering in Marrakesh, when the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election were announced. Many participants were shocked. Everyone knew Donald Trump’s well-documented tweets denying climate change. In the first six months of his presidency, President Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and named an industry-insider, Scott Pruitt, who has voiced skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change and written that the matter is “far from settled,” as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is not good news for the world. The U.S. is responsible for one-fifth of polluting global emissions. Climate change is happening and the new American administration refuses to recognize the problem. As Margaret Hartmann, an editor for New York magazine, noted in her June 2017 article, “What Quitting the Paris Climate Accord Will Do to the U.S., and the Planet,” pulling out of the Paris Agreement will be disastrous for future generations.
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