Presidential nominees must support climate action

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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, left and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listen to a question from Moderator Chris Wallace of FOX News during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Joe Raedle

The country’s collective gaze has been focused on the upcoming election for months, but Obama’s work is not finished yet. The Paris Climate Agreement will enter into force on Nov. 4, just days before our next president is decided. Unfortunately this groundbreaking pursuit, signed by countries that contribute to more than 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, has had shockingly little coverage in recent months.

This is not necessarily due to a lack of interest from most media organizations and likely has more to do with the constant barrage of headlines stemming from the presidential race. Here, however, we have a large part of the issue. In coverage of the presidential race we have seen consistent headlines regarding the economy, immigration control and, of course, the never-ending stream of questions about Clinton’s emails and Trump’s sexual indiscretions. These issues, though important, have been obsessively covered while nothing has been said regarding other pressing topics. 

Although there have been brief mentions of climate change and energy policy, the Paris Climate Agreement has somehow been completely skipped over in the course of three separate debates designed to inform voters on important issues and the candidates’ stances on them. 

If the U.S. pulls out of the agreement, the risks could be massive. Not only would it remove one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions from the agreement which is aimed to make the world more accountable, but without the participation of the U.S. it is very unlikely the other countries involved will continue to participate. 

Kris Wilson, a senior lecturer in the School of Journalism with a Ph.D. in geography and climate change, said while this agreement may not be the best option, it is the only one that world leaders could agree upon. 

“If it goes into effect, it can actually make some difference,” Wilson said. “But if we pull out of it and don’t own up to our responsibilities and take our responsibility seriously, the rest of the world will also use that as an excuse.”

If Donald Trump is elected, he has said that he would “cancel” the agreement, and Clinton has expressed deep concern over climate change and has said that it “must be enforced.” The candidates’ differing views on this very pressing issue should be seriously considered when voting, yet it was not broached in the course of three separate debates, leaving many voters ignorant on this imperative topic.

“It is a global problem that requires a global solution,” Wilson said. 

To start on the path to that solution we first need a dialogue. The United States has a responsibility to own up to the pollution that we have caused, and by ignoring our involvement, we stop the conversation before it begins. 

Don’t fool yourselves. Despite what Trump says, climate change is absolutely real. If we continue to ignore it out of fear or some kind of purposeful blindness, we will pass the point of no return and our futures will be forever changed.

Bonfiglio is a journalism junior from Oak Creek, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter @NahilaBonfiglio.