In a press statement on Monday, Michael R. Pompeo, U.S. secretary of state, announced that the U.S. has initiated its formal withdrawal from the Paris Agreement to the United Nations.
While President Trump already acknowledged this in June 2017, the formal process commenced Monday and will take a year.
“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement. The U.S. has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The “U.S. approach,” as dictated by Pompeo’s statement, is “backed by a record of real world results,” but no longer the science-based targets outlined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which applies rigid focus on keeping a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels) — more prudently under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Paris Agreement opened for signature on Earth Day in April 2016, and the essential elements constitute “appropriate mobilization and provision of financial resources,” a new tech framework and “enhanced capacity-building.” This built upon the previous year’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris and initially included 197 Parties, to which the U.S. was a signatory.
“We will continue to work with our global partners to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change and prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” Pompeo said.
International research organizations, such as the Global Carbon Project, have quantified the carbon emissions. Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels likely rose by 1.6 percent in 2017 and 2.7 percent in 2018, according to the Global Carbon Budget 2018 report. As independent research firm Rhodium Group reported earlier this year, the U.S. carbon emissions in 2018 rose an estimated 3.4 percent from 2017, revealing a country that isn’t apt to derail its dependence on fossil fuels.
But even as the fashion industry has demonstrated, leadership without innovation may mean lagging behind. Despite the exit of the world’s largest economy from an international agreement on climate change, progress will continue, as environmental experts enthuse.
“Common sense energy progress will continue with or without Donald Trump. He can’t cancel a multilateral treaty signed by nearly 200 sovereign nations, but he can keep America stuck in the fossil-fuel past while China and other nations become 21st-century leaders,” said Greenpeace U.S. executive director Annie Leonard in a statement, adding that: “The transition to clean energy will continue.”
With the science-based initiatives such as the Kering-led G7 Fashion Pact, Amazon’s Climate Pledge and various commitments across the board, the fashion industry is at least committed to collaborating on its efforts to mitigate climate change. Green investments are already taking shape as company executives unfold strategies towards greater supply chain traceability, increased reduction in carbon emissions, the efficient use of water, energy and chemicals and more humane treatment of workers.
Hybrid investment firms such as Closed Loop Partners, Giant Leap Fund, CYCLEffect Regenerative Ventures, Future Tech Lab and Magic Hour are already betting on more circular ideals and new business cases for sustainable growth.
And it doesn’t stop with cutting back on emissions or a switch to green energy, as green energy investments alone are not enough. Start-ups such as Canada-based Carbon Engineering or Switzerland-based Climeworks are focused on large-scale capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide, as companies are already looking past more rudimentary carbon offsetting measures.
From a consumer perspective, direct-to-consumer brands such as eco-friendly, inclusive brand Everybody & Everyone (which is also one of the 56 signatories of the G7 Fashion Pact) and soon-to-be-launching circular shoe brand Thousand Fell are designing with circularity in mind and making environmental responsibility cool.
The formal exit of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement may cause a dent to morale for signatories such as China and India, which are classified as developing countries by the UN, but the hope is current leadership from the E.U. will be enough to rally international momentum — with or without the U.S.
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