World Environment Day takes new meaning with U.S. withdrawal from Paris agreement

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-07 00:09:30|Editor: yan
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DENVER, the United States, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Thanks to Donald Trump, the annual World Environment Day (WED) which occurs on June 5 every year was unusually somber this year.

Most environmentalists were still reeling from the president's announcement last week that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Small gatherings, small parades, and picnics dotted the American landscape on a day when joyous celebrations earmarked the past.

"When the world environment is under attack from the U.S. president, there's not a lot for our environmentalists to hold onto," said political analyst David Richardson.

"We're headed into an era of battening down the hatches and holding on for dear life...literally," he said.

Not just the land, but the water, oceans, forests, and "the air that we breathe," is critical to our survival, said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a WED video message.

Trump's June 1 announcement that the U.S. was leaving the 2015 landmark environmental pact signed by 197 other countries has sent shock waves across the world.

Medical groups say the young and elderly will be especially affected by the U.S. retreat from Paris agreement - including respiratory and heat-related illnesses, insect-borne infections, water-borne diseases, and threats to safe food and water.

"This is our environment. It is the keystone of a sustainable future," Guterres said. "Without a healthy environment we cannot end poverty or build prosperity."

America abandoning the Paris Agreement was hardly discussed in the huge WED festival, unlike in the states, where it dominated the day.

"In other parts of the world, leaders fully appreciate the power of this new (renewable energy) industrial revolution, and are standing ready to step into the leadership void," said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Kortenhorst named "China, India, and Europe, together with all but three countries around the world (Syria, Nicaragua, and now the U.S.) are committed to implementing the Paris agreement even after this set back."

In the U.S. the only celebration worth mentioning was in California.

Southeast of Los Angeles, dozens of Coachella Valley families and desert-dwelling environmental enthusiasts celebrated WED with a gathering at the Palm Springs Pavilion.

The festivities included games, dancing, food and information about the local environment.

"I'm surprised anybody was celebrating WED," Richardson said.

"Trump apparently does not realize that with the power and energy we produce, his action will hurt people all over the world," Richardson said.

"He can also withhold the three billion dollars the United States had committed under the Paris treaty for assistance to poorer Nations to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions," Richardson added.