Last Friday I was present outside the American embassy to protest against Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the USA.
Why was I there? Did I think that it would change anything? No. I knew that my presence at this protest would not make any difference. I went there to exercise my democratic right to protest. To show that I cannot support the inauguration of this man; I cannot ignore what is happening in the world; and since I have the privilege of living in a mostly democratic society, I feel it is my duty to exercise the right to demonstrate, to practice freedom of speech, and to stand up for something I care about.
Trump’s election has brought a series of social issues to the surface. Women’s rights, racism, and LGBT rights are all issues which the new presidency makes even more urgent. But above all others the one thing that brought me to tears last Friday night is the willful neglect of the climate debate.
Having Trump in the White House scares me. It scares me, not only because we put this aggressive businessman in one of the most powerful positions in the world, not only because he will have the nuclear button within reach at all times, but primarily because he can threaten the entire future of the agreement we finally achieved during the climate conference in Paris in 2015.
Just hours after Trump entered the presidential residence, all mention of climate change was removed from the White House website. Previously, coverage of climate change on the site included an entire section celebrating the Climate Action Plan announced by Obama in 2013.
The Trump administration has replaced this with a new energy plan which makes no specific mention of global warming; the primary commitment is to reduce American energy prices. The only mention of environmental care is related to the promise of clean air and water – in America first.
That the president of the United States chooses to demote this issue in such a critical time for the world’s climate, is terrifying. Furthermore, he’s already given further power to people in the oil industry – an industry that needs, not to gear up, but to step down if we have any hope of reaching the goals set in the 2015 United Nations Climate Agreement.
Americans make up an estimated 5% of the world’s population. The USA currently uses 25% of the world’s resources, burning up nearly 25% of the coal, 26% of the oil, and 27% of the natural gas. Ignoring all this will not do anything for the world’s climate.
I am trying to take a crumb of comfort from the fact that even Trump has moved on from what he Tweeted in 2012: the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Now you know: it’s a conspiracy – not.
Whilst China is by no means innocent, people in developing countries are much more likely to be affected by climate change made in the West. Look at the drought in Ethiopia – but Trump is not going to look. In the self-declared age of America First, other people’s lives can only seem trivial to the new president.
I will protest, because I believe with all my heart that this is wrong and unfair. I will keep protesting because I believe in equality, and if there was ever a time to stand together, to show solidarity, to show that we care, that time is now.