Policy and Agriculture: What Current Trends Are Pointing To
Last week the US President Donald Trump made headlines around the world when he announced that he would start the process of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. Only two other countries – Syria and Nicaragua – have declined to be part of the Agreement, which was seen as a major step towards a globally coordinated, long term strategy for tackling climate change.
When former US President Barack Obama originally attempted to get the terms of the Agreement ratified by Congress, he was blocked, so it was never enshrined in law. All that Obama could do was enact an executive order to instruct the federal government to implement the Agreement. With Donald Trump now in the White House, that executive order is set to
With Donald Trump now in the White House, that executive order is set to canceled and the US is free to withdraw from all participation in the Agreement.
Was the Paris Climate Agreement that Important?
The central principles of the Agreement focus on sustainable development and reducing pollution. On the surface, it’s easy to assume that fewer regulations for US farmers would be a positive thing. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth and the long-term impact on farmers could be significant. Unless coordinated action is taken to minimize the effects of climate change, the fragile ecology of the land we farm is under real threat from floods, drought, and other environmental issues.
In regions that are already impacted by food scarcity, the Paris Agreement was seen as merely a good start, with much more action needed to really tackle the long-term problems posed by climate change. In the US too, there is widespread support within the agriculture industry for adopting eco-friendly practices.
In an open letter to the White House, the US National Farmers’ Union has urged President Trump to stay within the Paris Agreement, saying that ‘farmers are on the front lines of climate change’.
The letter also highlighted that many jobs within the farming sector are linked to environmental innovation and research, such as the development of alternative power sources.
At present, many farms continue to use outdated, coal-based forms of power, so Trump’s insistence on putting coal first removes the impetus to find new, environmentally friendly solutions within the agricultural sector.
Experts have also stated that those farms that fail to adapt to modern technologies and today’s environmental constraints will inevitably suffer financially.
There is clear evidence to suggest that those within the farming sector who are most willing to change are the ones who are likely to reap the biggest rewards in the long term. Pulling out of the Paris Agreement simply encourages complacency and stagnation and it will do nothing for the industry, whereas in countries that are pushing forwards with the Paris Agreement, farmers will be motivated to find innovative and profitable solutions to environmental issues.
How can Individuals make a Difference?
Already, opposition to Trump’s decision is fierce and vocal, with 246 mayors from across the US issuing a joint statement to say that they intend to comply with the obligations laid down in the Paris Agreement.
It’s not just civic representatives, but big businesses, and unions that can also take action against Trump’s decision.
Individuals can make a real difference too.
As an example, buying local produce cuts down on food miles and really helps to reduce vehicle emissions. Thinking more carefully about food shopping can also help, by reducing the amount of food waste that is produced. A more considered and sensible approach to food shopping can dramatically reduce the amount of waste food sent to landfill and cut weekly grocery bills at the same time.
As Trump presses on with the rollback of the Paris Agreement in the US, it’s more important than ever for every one of us to play a part in curbing climate change in whichever ways we can.
Many companies have cottoned on to the economic benefit of people’s willingness to do their part, as can by typified by the increasing prevalence of eco-tourism amongst those looking to volunteer and aid in various conservation projects.
Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement is, of course, a major setback for both the US and the global community alike. What we should all keep in mind is that a strong and sustained movement exists which is determined to find new solutions to the environmental problems we face, contribute to the global climate change debate and hopefully promote new environmental legislation at some stage in the future.