The United Nations Conference of the Parties 23 (COP23) launched Nov. 6 in Bonn, Germany. Two years earlier the historic Paris Climate Agreement was reached and the world united to combat anthropogenic climate change. Now the goal of COP23 is to advance implementation of the agreement through the development of guidelines, considering transparency, adaptation, greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission reduction, funding and technology.

With the recent addition of Nicaragua and Syria to the signatories, every nation on Earth has endorsed the agreement. Unfortunately, President Trump has announced his plans to withdraw the United States from the agreement in an appalling display of scientific ignorance and bad judgment. Although Trump’s action is detrimental to the fight against climate change, the official withdrawal process takes about four years to complete. And through his action Trump has relinquished leadership on climate change to China.

In addition to the Paris Agreement, 191 countries in 2016 signed an emission-lowering plan for commercial airlines. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) was designed to decrease GHG emissions through the funding of carbon-absorbing forests and use of sustainable aviation fuels. Although emission reductions may be small initially, CORSIA provides a framework for progress in this important emission sector.

What is the current world status of anthropogenic climate change? The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global temperature increase to 2 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels, thus avoiding climate catastrophe. The global temperature increase to date is about 1.3 degree Celsius. Under the agreement, each nation has pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by a stated amount, the Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC. The United States NDC, for example, is a reduction of 26 to 28 percent below the 2005 level by 2025.

If all nations fulfill their NDCs, the estimated global temperature increase will still be a dangerous 2.7 to 3.5 degree Celsius. So clearly greater emission cuts are mandatory and the signatories have pledged to reevaluate every five years and ratchet up their emission cuts. To avoid climate disaster, the world must completely eliminate GHG emissions by 2050 by transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, termed decarbonization. In fact, Professor Mark Jacobson at Stanford University has mapped a plan for 100 percent global renewable-energy usage ( and researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology have recently determined this can be accomplished by 2050.

The major obstacle to decarbonization in the United States is political, not technological. Clearly we have the sources of renewable energy and the developing battery systems to accomplish this transformation. Control of the legislative and executive branches by Trump and other Republican puppets of the fossil-fuel industry prevents action necessary to rapidly scale up clean energy and energy storage.

In Waco, we must contact Trump, Congressman Bill Flores and Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and voice our support for action to combat climate change and our opposition to any new fossil-fuel infrastructure. Trump has filled his cabinet with fossil-fuel lackeys and constantly acts in the interest of the oil industry, not the people. The bottom line is the voting record of these politicians, not their words.

The League of Conservation Voters has tabulated their percentage of pro-environment votes as follows: Cornyn, 2016: 6 percent, lifetime 5 percent; Cruz, 2016: 0 percent, lifetime 3 percent; Flores, 2016 0 percent, lifetime 3 percent. Lawmakers with these horribly failing grades must be replaced as soon as possible with women and men who will vote to preserve our climate and biosphere. And if the Trump presidency should survive into 2020, we must not allow his destruction of our climate, environment and international reputation to continue four more years.

Alan Northcutt is a Waco physician and director of Waco Friends of Peace/Climate.