The US decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement is an abdication of responsibility that will affect people’s livelihoods and our environment for years to come.
Our response must be to redouble our environmental efforts at home and to collaborate more closely with other countries.
There will be people in the UK who want to follow the US example. They will cite the UK’s small output of greenhouse gases as a reason to step back from climate action.
But leadership isn’t a matter of size.
The frontrunners in the creation of the global climate accords have often been the tiniest.
Trailblazing countries like Papua New Guinea (remember this speech?), the Maldives (this cabinet meeting) and sometimes the UK (the Climate Change Act) have led the way. Sometimes individuals have inspired the world (think of Leonardo or Arnold). And sometimes communities can take a lead where national action is wanting.
These smaller countries, communities and individuals have shown a statute on the world stage that has helped forge a remarkable global consensus: one that the US now stands outside, with Nicaragua and Syria.
So, what can we do in the UK?
- We can be a leading nation in taking fossil fuels out of our energy system.
- We can link up nature and climate, restoring habitats like wetlands and peatlands to lock away carbon.
- We can play our part in the world, helping developing countries to chart a clean, green energy future by ensuring our overseas aid supports local clean energy.
At WWT, we’re working to reduce climate change and to help people and wildlife adapt to its effects by restoring wetlands in the countryside and in our communities. We’re joining with our partners in The Climate Coalition to speak up about climate change to our political leaders.
If these things matter to you, then look for them in our leaders in the week ahead. We have a week to go before the General Election and climate change and nature have barely featured in the debate.
Here’s what the parties have promised so far for our environment.
Let’s press them all for more and make sure that the UK plays its part for a green, clean energy future for people and nature. We have led the world before on environmental protection. Let’s make sure the US decision galvanises our resolve to do so again.