Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

We know, more than ever, that the climate fight must be waged at the local level. (Photo: Joel Lukhovi/Survival Media Agency)

After Paris Withdrawal, Local Resistance is Fertile

Increasingly, people are rising up, speaking out, and taking direct action in their communities to fight for the future of our planet.

Paris is also known as the City of Light. And with his decision yesterday to exit the Paris climate accord, Donald Trump’s diplomatic dereliction has put a shimmering spotlight on how to address the climate emergency: start at the local level.

While the 2015 signing of the deal was a cause for optimism, for many of us it was not a cause for celebration. When it was first introduced, we witnessed many activists taking to the streets in protest because the accord did not go far enough.

This is an agreement that was advocated for by ExxonMobil and other corporations that fuel and are fueled by our slash, burn, extract, and emit economy.  They supported the Paris Agreement because they knew it did not go far enough. That’s why, even at the final hour, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (and former ExxonMobil CEO) argued that the United States should remain in the climate pact. Tillerson and other advocates knew that the deal was not legally binding and, for the most part, would allow for extractive industries to continue their business model as usual. Fossil fuel supporters of the climate pact understood that the Paris Agreement would only ever engender an illusion of action.

Today we know, more than ever, that the climate fight must be waged at the local level. We’ve seen why in cities like Seattle, which divested $3.5 billion from Wells Fargo — and in states like New York, where the NY Renews coalition is fighting to reduce emissions while ensuring that marginalized communities receive justice after years of environmental racism.

Local champions understand that the Trump regime, in concert with an obstinate, GOP-controlled Congress, has blocked most inroads at the federal level. For every Representative Pramila Jayapal and Senator Bernie Sanders, there are 22 lawmakers (like the ones who wrote a letter to Donald Trump urging him to withdraw from the agreement) who proclaim climate change as a hoax, hurtful to the U.S. brand of hyper-capitalism.

In a paradoxical way, we should thank Donald Trump for this feckless decision. The mainstream media is now devoting more coverage to the Paris Agreement than it ever did when the deal was signed in 2015 at COP21. Increasingly, people are rising up, speaking out, and taking direct action in their communities to fight for the future of our planet.

Here at The Leap, we embrace this opportunity to organize, strategize, and mobilize, in an effort to get from the world as it is to the world we want. The Paris agreement was neither enforceable nor legally binding. Now, the people will be the ones who will Boycott, Divest, Sanction, and Prosecute the fossil fuel industry, and bring an end to their impunity. As Naomi Klein wrote Thursday in The Intercept, “It’s time for some people’s sanctions.”

We’re ready to get to work with everyone who agrees that in the wake of last week’s announcement, “Resistance is Fertile.” Now, it’s time to Leap to the future and planet we need.


© 2021 This Changes Everything

Anthony Rogers-Wright

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright is US Coordinator with The Leap. He has presented the case for climate justice, environmental justice, and climate change action at universities nation- and worldwide and written on the subjects for various publications. Anthony was named one of Grist's "50 People You'll Be Talking About in 2016." His most important client is his 20 month old son, Zahir Cielo, and he currently resides in Seattle, WA.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Groups Blast Biden for 'Siding With Billionaires Over Rail Workers'

As criticism of the president's position mounts, some members of Congress are speaking out in support of including at least seven days of paid sick leave in any measure they pass.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Very Good Day for Our Republic' as Key Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy

"Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible," said one former federal prosecutor after Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Report Advises 'Urgent Action' to Combat Slavery in Clean Energy Supply Chains

"We need to see industry, government, the financial sector, and civil society working together to provide access to competitively costed, slavery-free renewable energy."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressives Mobilize in Georgia for Dec. 6 Senate Runoff

Advocacy groups backing Sen. Raphael Warnock call the Democrat a "reproductive rights champion" who is also "fighting to stop the climate crisis and create good jobs in the process."

Jessica Corbett ·


Senate Report Details Failure to Confront 'Persistent and Lethal' Threat of White Supremacists

"The federal government has continued to allocate resources disproportionately aligned to international terrorist threats over domestic terrorist threats," the report reads.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo