When the Paris Climate Accord was first made public in late 2015, I wrote that some of my greatest hopes for the agreement were not necessarily in the non-binding limits to greenhouse gasses, but in the language describing the role of people — social systems, communities, traditional knowledge, and indigenous cultures.
You can read these two paragraphs below — but in the meantime, as the President has decided to singlehandedly withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, it is increasingly important to make change on the local and regional level and commit to doing what we can as individuals, communities, educational institutions, businesses, and local governments.
As of today, 10 governors, 82 mayors, and many business leaders, colleges, and universities have joined together to continue to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement”
We must take the lead to demonstrate that individual action can have a substantial and tangible impact, despite sweeping political pronouncements. There are many resources available to you:
Call your governor, mayor, or city council.
Talk with local businesses.
Make your voice heard.
If you’re interested in reading more, the two sections I am most drawn to in the Paris Agreement are, one, Article 7, Paragraph 5:
Parties acknowledge that [climate] adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate.
The second is Article 12:
Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this Agreement.
Article 7 recommends a decision-making process vastly different from the one we are engaged in here in the U.S.: an inclusive, “participatory and fully transparent” process that acknowledges the complexities of climate issues and their roots in a combined system of social, economic, and ecological practice.
Article 12, in its entirely, is dedicated to a participatory education process and demonstrating the vital role played by individuals and the diverse communities affected by climate change–and not simply those largely responsible for it.