Plan International urges the United States government to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement, which sets global goals for limiting global warming and cutting carbon emissions. Because the U.S. is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the global community cannot make significant strides by the second half of the century without continued U.S. action and support.
Should the global community fail to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit the world’s average temperature increase to 1.5oC, as agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, climate change will continue to increase the frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters, with resulting instability in society and governments – especially in the world’s poorest regions.
Climate-related disasters and slower onset changes, such as shifts in rainfall and disease patterns, can have disproportionate impacts on children, with the poorest or most vulnerable often the hardest hit. Climate change can precipitate disastrous and violent weather events, like typhoons as well as slow onset famine. It is at times like these when girls and women are most vulnerable, creating an environment where child marriage and human trafficking flourish, and girls’ rights to learn, lead, decide, and thrive are suppressed. But, as much as it is a moral responsibility to ensure the health of the planet and its people, it is also a practical and economic one. Upheavals in these regions can often undermine stable governments and could lead to the rise of violent extremism, creating further risks for U.S. national security. American companies and consumers will suffer as global development is disrupted and markets bear the brunt of uncertainty.
It is not just concern for today’s children that should be driving action in this area. By stepping away from its commitment to work on limiting global warming, the U.S. government is compromising the promise and potential of future generations. Children and future generations, who have not contributed to the current problem of climate change, will bear the long-term impacts and be responsible for finding solutions to the impacts of climate change, such as food insecurity.
Plan International has already seen the effects of climate change in some of the poorest regions of the world. Our disaster risk management programming works to strengthen local government and community group capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Our Child-Centered Climate Change (4CA) program, for example, helps to ensure children, young people, and communities have continued access to basic services despite worsening climatic hazards or diseases. We work with these groups to identify risks and strengthen community resilience, to implement climate change adaptation activities and to encourage local-level advocacy to push governments to take action on climate change. We also work to ensure refugees and displaced people have access to health care, water and sanitation, protection, economic security, and education.
However, despite these efforts, many remain unprepared in times of disaster or turmoil, and a volatile climate will only result in more unstable societies and displaced people.
Plan International is disappointed in the Administration’s recent decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. should fulfill its responsibility as a world leader in the response to global climate change and continue to address one of the greatest threats to the world’s stability, health, economy, and security by investing in renewable energy over the burning of fossil fuels.