On June 30th, Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres told a meeting on climate change in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that “the world is facing a grave emergency” from climate change, that “climate disruption is happening now and it is happening to all of us.” He added that climate change is “outpacing our efforts to address it with each week bringing new climate-related devastation from floods, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires and superstorms.” Conditions “will only get worse unless we act now with ambition and urgency,” he stated. He also noted that “many countries are not even keeping pace with their promises under the Paris Agreement.”
Climate change may be the greatest threat to human existence since the first humans set foot on the plains of Africa about 300,000 years ago. Climate change is driven by greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, primarily carbon dioxide and methane. China, the United States and the European Union account for more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But the United States, which has the world’s largest economy and produces about 15% of the total, is no longer a party to the Paris Agreement, having been pulled out by President Trump. Worse, President Trump has declared climate change to be a hoax and has had his administration work to undermine efforts to reduce the greenhouse pollutants that the United States has been pumping into the atmosphere, by appointing climate deniers and fossil fuel industry supporters across his administration.
Since the United States is one of the world’s biggest polluters, by undermining the United States’ climate change remediation efforts, President Trump represents a direct threat to humanity. To rectify the situation in the short term, other countries will need to provide leadership and use every diplomatic and economic tool available to pressure the United States into taking action to fight climate change. Most importantly, all efforts must be made to ensure Trump’s defeat in next year’s U.S. presidential election and that he is replaced by someone who understands the climate change threat and will work to fight its effects.