The Paris Agreement and our 2020 candidates

You don’t need to dig too deep to understand where the 2020 presidential candidates stand on environmental policy. It is quite apparent that Biden’s policies would shape a much greener future. But why? 

Recently Biden has become a lot more aggressive about his plan, promising 2 trillion dollars over the course of 4 years towards green jobs and infrastructure. This includes 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations. While that sounds great, the most impactful part of Biden’s plan would be in regards to rejoining the Paris climate agreement. 

Consider this: Deforestation destroys 32 million acres of forest every year — an area the size of North Carolina — adding more carbon to the atmosphere than the sum total of all the cars and trucks in the world. The Paris agreement supports REDD+, a U.N. program that rewards and incentivizes countries to conserve their forests. It is one of the more impactful actions the world can take, by allowing nature to remain in the fight against global warming. 

Trump, on the other hand, has opened more public lands to oil and gas drilling. While Biden has said that he will not stop current fracking practices, he professes that he will not allow any further fracking operations.

The argument against the Paris agreement is that it will handcuff American businesses. The argument for the agreement is to improve the environmental health of the world, and embrace the changing times we live in. Many large US corporations (including coal companies) such as Apple, Coca Cola, and Walmart have advocated for the Paris agreement. Consider the fate of Blockbuster, the company who refused to adapt with changing times. Do we want to share this fate, or do we want to embrace change for better?

The argument for the Paris agreement from coal companies is extremely reasonable. They don’t want to be left out of the conversation. Historically, US companies have innovated when faced with stricter environmental legislation. US coal company advocates say they want a more reasonable path forward and an opportunity to develop carbon capture technology and cleaner practices. These are all extremely reasonable and important arguments for staying in the Paris agreement. Does America want to be the only country not included in the international discussion?