2015 was an extraordinary year for the world coming together to solve global problems, as both the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate change agreement brought together leaders from around the world to commit to ending poverty and fighting global warming. Those goals are critical to ushering in the kind of interconnected world necessary to sustain our children and families in the future. Today’s news that the United States – after doing so much to deliver those agreements – intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement sends a terrible signal to the rest of the world and it undermines efforts to build the kinds of global partnerships that can protect our future.
For the last several years the Rockefeller Foundation has made significant investments in analyzing our planet’s health, and what we’ve learned is striking: our planet’s ability to sustain the growing human population is declining. If left unchecked, climate change-related impacts could cause an extra 250,000 deaths every year between 2030 and 2050. But more than just a danger we might encounter in the future, climate change is a threat we face today. I just returned from Africa where I’ve seen our grantees and partners work extraordinarily hard over decades to improve food production among smallholder farmers so they can feed their children and send them to school, but a changing climate is making it harder and harder for them to cope – and it’s putting our entire world at risk. Right now, poor rainfall is leading to food shortages and political instability in multiple parts of our world. Climate shifts and environmental degradation are reducing the nutritional content of foods we rely on to keep us healthy. And increasingly destructive storms have wreaked unprecedented damage, particularly in urban areas.
The Rockefeller Foundation will remain committed to doing our part to address these challenges – investing in health, agriculture, renewable energy, and resilience. But make no mistake: climate change poses a collective threat to us all, and it demands a collective response, which we are increasingly seeing from cities, states, and private companies. It is shameful that on an issue where America should be standing at the fore as a light unto humanity, it is instead turning its back and shrinking from its responsibilities as a global leader.