Dear Mr Trump,
I doubt you really need telling this, but most of us – us ‘millennials’ – don’t like that you’ve pulled out of the Paris Agreement.
Us, the ones who’re going to be around to see the damage being done to the world, the ones who’ll be dealing with the consequences of actions that are – and aren’t – being taken now, are not massive fans of this decision of yours. But, as I’ve already said, I doubt you need to be told that. The opposition of this decision is widespread, and largely publicised. You must be aware of it.
I wanted to write to you anyway, though. Not to tell you just my opinion, because what does the opinion of one person mean to one of the most powerful people on earth?
No. I thought I’d share some other opinions, too, while I was at it. So I asked around. I posed the question ‘what would you like to say to Donald Trump regarding the Paris Agreement?’ to my friends and peers – other British teenagers, people who you claim to not have any responsibility over. Other people whose opinions probably don’t mean all that much to you, but since we’re a group, a subset of a generation, we’re louder than just me on my own. We’re the people you’re answerable to, Mr Trump. We’re the people who’ll be teaching the next couple of generations why they’ll never get to see a polar bear.
We’re the ones who have to deal with any damage you may do – and there’s potential for there to be a lot of that.
‘You silly man – your response to covfefe almost made you seem human. This, however, just about proves how ridiculous you are as an individual, and how you lack the ability to truly think about your impact on the planet as a man with such a staggering amount of power and influence.’
You see, Mr Trump, as this friend of mine pointed out, you have more power and influence than almost anybody else on this planet, that you don’t seem to mind destroying. Just because someone lives somewhere that you were ‘not elected to represent’, that doesn’t mean you don’t represent them. Because the more powerful a country is, the larger, the richer, the ‘greater’ it is – the more accountable it is, too. When you signed up for this job, did you not realise that? Did you not realise that your influence spreads beyond your borders? That you aren’t just answering to Americans? Sure – technically, you can’t do anything anywhere else, but the things that happen to and in a power country such as the United States are the concern of the entire world, especially when the decisions being made are decisions that will impact the planet itself – the one that you share with billions of other people, and the one that is going to struggle to survive without cooperation from everybody.
The reason I’m writing this letter, all the way from England, all the way from somewhere you ‘don’t represent’, is because this decision, to pull out of the Paris Agreement, it impacts the countries that you have no direct control over, and choosing to neglect preserving and protecting our environment is not, in my opinion, a decision that you had any right to make.
Because this is a decision that impacts the entire world, Mr Trump – regardless of your personal belief in climate change.
‘Your lack of belief in climate change is absolutely flabbergasting. Some of the most heat resilient animals, like donkeys and kangaroos are dying because the
drought caused by climate change means they have no water.’
But I’m not here to persuade you of the existence of climate change, Mr Trump. I’m here because your decisions are going to harm people – and that is something I hate to stand by and watch.
‘Sure, you don’t believe in climate change, but you should sign the agreement for the sake of people having clean air to breathe.’
Yeah – we do want that, funnily enough. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions has the delightful side effect of less harmful pollution, and that does more damage than just contributing to climate change. You only have to look into history, at the Great Smog of London, or ‘Big Smoke’ of 1952 – which killed around 12,000 people – to realise that pollution and carbon emissions are undeniably things we should be trying to restrict.
Not to mention the other side effects that being a part of the Paris Agreement would have reduced – acid rain, destroying the ozone layer, so many things that you’re neglecting to take into account.
Climate change, and lacking that, the general state of this earth, doesn’t just impact the USA, or just Paris, it impacts everyone else on the earth too. It impacts every single human who lives now, and every single human who will live in years to come. And your responsibility, Mr Trump, as ‘leader of the free world’, as the president of the most influential country on the earth, spreads beyond Pittsburgh. And I’m not the only one of this opinion.
‘The United States of America has the second highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in the world and, as the leader of a world power country, it is your responsibility to set a good example, not to promote destroying this planet.’
It seems you don’t want to admit it, Mr Trump, but you are accountable to the entire world, not just the citizens of your country. I’m sorry to be blunt, but it’s time to stop being so selfish, sir. Because that is what this choice is.
I know that your answer to the following question is yes – and that means that you are consciously choosing to do something you know will have negative effects on the rest of the world, because of reasons that you believe will benefit only a small proportion of the world population. Selfish.
‘When you said that you were elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris, did you realise that the Paris Agreement doesn’t just benefit Parisians?’
You aren’t a stupid man, Mr Trump. I don’t think that can reasonably be claimed. You’re a successful businessman, and marketer, and you’ve played the political game very well, regardless of if your political opinions are supported. I have no doubts that you fully understand the Paris Agreement and all its consequences, or that they have at least been explained to you. I believe that you made your choice to pull out of the agreement because there was something about doing so that seems sensible to you. In fact, you aren’t the only one who sees the sense, even amongst this young, liberal generation.
‘Considering that no country has ever stuck to the promises they make on the climate agreement, and many utterly abuse the billions and billions of dollars you’re expected to put in to basically fund industrialisation (which the agreement was originally about), you have done the right thing for America. Oh, and considering that every country sticks to the promises they make (which they never do), and with it they say average global climate will reduce by 0.2 of a degree in 100 years….I can see why you would want to pull America out of one of the biggest money laundering flops I’ve ever seen.’
You want to save your country money. That is a sensible and reasonable thing to want to do. I, too, see the sense in it, and don’t think anyone can blame you for wanting to do so. But what people can, and are, blaming you for, is the fact that you’re sacrificing something that isn’t yours to sacrifice in the name of saving money. And that, Mr Trump? That is where I stop seeing the sense in your actions. I don’t see, at all, how you think aiming for financial stability in the short term is more important than ensuring environmental stability, in terms of an inhabitable planet for future generations.
But it’s not exactly a total surprise. It makes sense, because you’re a businessman, and you’re running your country like it’s a business – with an aim to make and save money. To me, there doesn’t seem to be anything inherently wrong with that, provided it works, and doesn’t harm anyone. You’re thinking about what will give America positive results the fastest, which is fine. Except for just one thing.
You’re going to harm people. And there is no way you can even try to justify it.
There’s an easy way around this – around this ‘harming people’ thing. But you’re refusing to take it, because you think it interferes with other goals.
But your goals, sir, are different to the goals of the rest of the world.
Your goals are only for America and its rich. They’re exclusively for the places you have control over – but not for the rest of the planet, and not for the individual people within your country, either, the ones who are going to outlive you. Your goals are selfish – on one level, thinking only about America, but on another, thinking only about yourself. It is unlikely that you will see the negative consequences of your decision in your lifetime, and so you aren’t thinking about them.
It seems to me, sir, that what you lack is not sense, or ability, or competence, but compassion.
You’re not paying attention to the environment, and you’re doing things that are bad for other people, but good for you. Your personal ranking of money as being more important than the planet has got in the way of your ability to make choices that will leave behind you an earth that stands a chance. To leave behind you something good, for the people who come after.
But it isn’t even true that you don’t benefit from the Paris Agreement. It’s not like you were giving something and getting nothing in return. America isn’t now, and never will be, so great that it’s exempt from the consequences of climate change.
‘On a local level, this means that you’re exposing coastal states like Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Connecticut to more extreme flooding and sea level rises – an irreversible damage. Your actions in allowing climate change to continue actually affect your own country – you’re not immune to your poor environmental decisions.’
You seem very patriotic, sir, like you really do care about the state of your country. You may not be alive to see it, but the nation you love is going to suffer at the hands of a changing environment, and American citizens won’t be thanking you then for your lack of action.
A lot of people – probably the majority of people, but there’s no way to know for sure – don’t like what you’ve done, Mr Trump. We don’t like this choice you’ve made, and to be honest, we weren’t expecting it. Something so selfish is beyond us.
‘I was convinced you were lying for votes, but then you turned out to actually do the things you said. I suppose I should be thankful that we finally have a politician who’s at least honest, but I’m really not.’
You have us wishing we were lied to. But, there is something to be said for your honesty, Mr Trump, so I hope you’ll excuse mine. You made a bad decision, both in my eyes, and in the eyes of many others. There is no excuse – including money – for failing to protect our planet, and its future generations.
A disappointed world citizen.
P.S, just because it made me laugh:
‘Russia signed it, so listen to your boss.’
Words by Jemimah Reeve.
Photography by Aleyna.