No Matter What, We'll Always Have Paris

CC BY 2.0. Lloyd Alter/ view from the Pompidou

Please excuse the lame, overused reference in the headline. But in this case it's true.

At the time of writing, the news media is rife with speculation that President Trump is close to withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. Make no mistake—this would be a monumentally stupid thing for America to do, as so many corporations, governments and citizens have warned.

That said, I am warming to the argument that whatever Trump and his allies settle on, the Paris agreement—however flawed—will still mark a major turning point in the fight against climate change. Consider this: When the US pulled out of Kyoto, environmentalists howled their protest but the rest of the world continued down its fossil fueled paths of development.

This time around, we are seeing China and Europe reaffirming their commitment to Paris, Germany and India exploring collaboration on renewables, and clean technologies like electric vehicles approaching tipping points where they are directly competitive with fossil fuels.

So what will it mean for future attempts at obstructionism if the United States—the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases—pulls out of the Paris Agreement and the world (including many states, cities, corporations and individuals in the US) continue its march toward a low carbon future?

In a typically epic thread on twitter, Alex Steffen laid out a convincing case for why the US exiting Paris could cause some unpredictable knock back that ends up strengthening elements of the climate fight. From carbon tariffs on climate deadbeats to rejoining the agreement once the current regime is gone, there are many elements to this potential scenario. But this, right here, might be the most important:

Already, as I write this, Reuters reports that:

It seems Big Energy is concerned about the political and economic fallout of such a catastrophically tone deaf move.

Whatever happens in the next few days, I would urge you to reflect on this: What can you do—as an individual, as an employee, as a business owner, as a citizen, as a community member, as a voter, as a leader, or in whatever roles you play in your life—to keep the momentum of the Paris agreement moving?

Whatever actions you decide on, I can assure you that you will not be alone.