A look back at the Paris Climate Agreement

Souvik Ghosh, Contributing Writer

Ever since June of last year when President Trump pledged to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the public has kept a skeptical eye on international events surrounding climate change. Yet, the outcry has calmed since the eruption of protests and calamity during the initial declaration. Now, 18 months after the controversy, the effects of withdrawing from the agreement are still inconclusive.

Trump’s initial speech to back America out and cease the Nationally Determined Commissions to the agreement elicited strong public outcry on all sides of the issue, with many popular figures taking to social and news media to elaborate their thoughts on this ballooning issue.

Now, the polarization of this issue has largely waned, the effects of which are seen within Fremd. Sophomore Kyle Paloma expresses his surprise at the controversy’s declining publicity.

“When Trump backed out of the agreement, it was really surprising to everyone. My Instagram feed blew up with celebrities and their thoughts, and the issue seemed so pressing.” Paloma said. “Now, no one really talks about it anymore.”

But how have climate perceptions truly changed across America, since the agreement controversy?

In 2016, a Yale Climate Opinion Map estimated that 70 percent of Americans believed that climate change was happening and 81 percent supported funding research into renewable energy sources. Comparatively, a 2018 Yale Climate Opinion Map estimates that 70 percent of Americans continue to believe that climate change is happening, and 82 percent support funding research into renewable energy sources.

Evidently, data sets estimate that perspectives on climate change have remained largely unaffected by the agreement over the past couple of years. But, the agreement is largely an environmental issue, so what has been going on in terms of the environment since the withdrawal?

Most often, climate change is measured by the average temperature rise over a set period of time as a result of the incredibly large amount of heat that it takes to warm the Earth’s surface. From this lens, the last few years have been record-breaking; a government climate report published earlier this year estimates that last year brought an end to the three-year streak of record warm temperatures, with 2017 coming in at the second or third warmest depending on which data set is analyzed. The same governmental model predicts that the global surface temperature will be .5 degrees Celsius warmer in 2020 than the 1986-2005 average.

At the end of the day, the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement has had long-term effects that have yet to fully manifest, and this 18-month snapshot of the decision has given a projective idea of what has come of the US withdrawal.