Nigel Sizer, President of certification body Rainforest Alliance, which has long played a role certifying sustainably produced coffee and cocoa and played a major role in efforts to make farming more sustainable, says it is “imperative” to act on behalf of the planet and actively oppose political measures that will further endanger natural resources and human lives.
Reacting to the result of the recent US election, Mr Sizer said: “Despite this turn in the road, we must fortify ourselves with renewed vigour to the urgent task at hand. Many of us working to fight climate change had been feeling optimistic last week as world leaders gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco for the United Nations Climate Conference (COP22). Then Donald Trump, an avowed climate skeptic, was elected President. Among his many ominous campaign promises was his stated intention to ‘cancel’ the US commitment to the Paris Agreement, which came into force just days before his election.”
“As a young man growing up in England, I was an avid fan of Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which featured a cover with advice given to the protagonist Arthur Dent; Don’t Panic! Today we can heed that same sage advice if we also incorporate a call to action. Let’s not panic, but let’s also resolve to keep moving forward in the fight against climate change,” said Mr Sizer.
“Many of the promises Donald Trump made on the campaign trail were lacking in facts and simply won’t be possible to implement. Some of his more extreme measures may not even be possible within the confines of a constitutional republic. And, just as the courts slowed down Obama’s efforts on climate change, the same courts can be used as a counterbalance to Trump’s initiatives.
“I believe most Americans want to keep our seat at the climate table – at least 60 per cent of Americas recognize the threats posed by climate change,” said Mr Sizer. “The science is too compelling, and the majority of us understand the need for immediate action. As Secretary of State John Kerry recently said, ‘Climate change is real…and the longer we wait, the harder the problem will be to solve.’
“Nongovernmental organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance have been effectively and consistently addressing some of the most critical environmental challenges around the world for decades. And even though we are justifiably cynical of a President-elect who does not believe in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, we have not lost hope. We have survived other environmentally reckless administrations and we know from experience that we can weather the storm-and that the pendulum will swing back with a vengeance.
“Finally, although the commitments in the Paris Agreement are voluntary, there is enormous international diplomatic and economic pressure to follow through on them. And even if Trump finds a way to make good on his threat to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it could take years to do so. And a new President could reinstate our participation in his wake.”
“While Trump may not be able to undermine US climate policy overnight, he can certainly undermine achievements the US has made under President Obama. So our refusal to panic must be accompanied by intensified efforts to fight climate change. The battleground may have shifted, but our mission and the big picture remain the same. We must sharpen our strategies and strengthen our tactics to leverage the growing resolve to address climate change, reverse tropical forest loss, and transition to sustainable energy and farming. The world will struggle without the US government as a partner in these efforts, but civil society will carry forward the work nonetheless.”