It must be a total coincidence that those who pushed Trump to ditch the Paris Agreement received donations from the fossil fuel industry

The US is not alone in dirty money diverting us from the course of climate justice

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The Independent Online

It is a sad and painful reminder of the times in which we live that one of the most powerful men in the world can recklessly, and without reason, walk away from the single most important international treaty that exists today – and pull funding from the Green Climate Fund. The Paris Agreement is by no means perfect – but it is a fragile and hope-filled beginning, and the start of a truly global community coming together to tackle the greatest challenge this planet, and all those who live on it, have ever faced: anthropogenic climate change.

As individuals, we must all choose how we respond to the hatred and recklessness of this scientifically and economically illiterate decision – but, for my part, I choose hope. I will ignore this small-minded and wretched man, who as Rebecca Solnit so eloquently described this week, “knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall”.  

A man “whose grasp has exceeded his understanding”, and who seems blind to the fact that there can be no new fossil fuel infrastructure if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. He seems to forget that last year, global investment in renewable power was double that of fossil fuels; that onshore wind is now the cheapest way to generate electricity, and the costs of solar have fallen 90 per cent since 2008, while both are set to drop even further. And, last Friday here in the UK, one quarter of our electricity came from the sun. The future is green – or not at all.

So, it is heartening that China and the EU have responded so strongly by affirming their commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process – but in the climate movement, it is not the politicians who lead, but the global community of people standing up to make their voices heard. It is the people across the UK putting their bodies in the way of a government-backed fracking nightmare. It is the Water Protectors who are stopping oil pipelines from being built, that serve only to line the pockets of Trump and his cronies; it is the fossil fuel divestment movement that has shifted over $5 trillion out of dirty energy; and it is the likes of Berta Caceras who have given their lives to protect the land of their ancestors from the profit-hungry shadows of the global extractive industry. 

And we’ve come a long way – but let’s not forget that all the work that we – this movement – has to do. As Naomi Klein wrote after Trump’s announcement, we now need to “deploy every tool in the policy, activist and judicial arsenal” – and we will. 

Trump pulls US out of Paris climate change deal

Of course it should come as no surprise that the senators who urged Trump to ditch the Paris Agreement had all received significant donations from the fossil fuel industry, and the US is not alone in dirty money diverting us from the course of climate justice – here in the UK, the Conservative Party under Theresa May has received almost half a million pounds in donations from big oil. If we are serious about climate change, we must kick fossil fuels out of politics. Let’s divest the MPs pension fund, end the £6bn-a-year fossil fuel subsidies and end the revolving door in Whitehall.

Most importantly, amid all this chaos, we must keep building, creating, and dreaming. For those most vulnerable to climate change – people living on low-lying land, in areas of extreme heat, or in extreme poverty – we have only years left to stop the worst of what might come. So, let’s mobilise, organise, and, above all, let’s believe that we can do this. Trump is a passing distraction from all that we can achieve together: the future is ours – so let’s fight for it, and let’s win.

Caroline Lucas is co-leader of the Green Party