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Environment

US Eliminates Climate Change Office That Helped Other Countries’ Sustainability Efforts

President Donald Trump, flanked by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, left, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, in March. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

From the top down, the United States government is turning its back on the fight against climate change.

Just weeks after President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the historic Paris climate agreement, the federal Energy Department said it would close its international climate change office.

The Office of International Climate and Technology, which was created in 2010 to coordinate efforts among countries to develop clean energy and provide advice on reducing greenhouse gases, will be eliminated, according to The New York Times.  

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The office didn’t require US companies or citizens to change their behaviors in any way, it only focused on helping other nations figure out how best to become more sustainable.

It represented international efforts that the head of Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, said would continue even after the US withdrew from the Paris agreement.  

The office did things like  help India figure out how to implement lighting standards and purchase LED lights for citizens in bulk, a program that would curb carbon dioxide emissions from one of the world’s biggest polluters, according to the report.

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The closure goes along with Trump’s proposal to defund and eliminate climate change initiatives in the 2018 federal budget. Congress hasn’t yet agreed to the proposals, but Energy Secretary Rick Perry can reorganize the department without Congressional approval, according to the Times.

In addition to formally ending programs, withdrawing the US from international agreements, and closing offices, the Trump administration has removed even the mention of “climate change” from federal websites.

The changes represent an enormous shift in US policy and a threat to global efforts to combat climate change, which is already leading to worsening storms, drought, heat, the melting of the ice caps, and the spread of diseases among wildlife and humans.

The US has by far the largest emissions total in modern history and the average US citizen burns twice as many fossil fuels as the average Chinese citizen.

“I think there’s a significant risk that the agreement could unravel,” John Sterman, director, MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, told Global Citizen after Trump’s announcement on the Paris agreement. “Along with all the [anti-climate] actions that have already been taken, this could lead to a cascade of waffling and goal erosion.”

As the US continues to withdraw its leadership on saving the planet, it continues to put lives at risk, both here and abroad.