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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.

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

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.


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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.

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.

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