Project Syndicate

The Year Ahead 2018

A Year of Renewed Climate Commitments

In 2017, the world experienced many of the devastating effects of climate change that scientists have long predicted, including severe hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts. But it also witnessed an unprecedented outpouring of support for the Paris climate agreement, which is alive and well, despite US President Donald Trump’s best efforts to sabotage it.

PARIS – For the growing share of the world’s population that understands the existential threat posed by climate change, the beginning of 2017 brought a sense of trepidation. In fact, collective angst was already apparent at the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, which had just started when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

At that time, speculation was swirling about what Trump’s election would mean for the US and the world. But there was little doubt that it would be bad for America’s formal commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

Throughout the course of 2017, questions about what a Trump presidency would entail began to be answered. And it turned out that while Trump certainly holds the most powerful office in the world when it comes to ordering military strikes, his power to refute the scientific consensus regarding climate change, and to resist the global transition to a green economy, is rather limited.

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