America Needs to Send John Kerry to COP22 With One Simple Message: We're In. And We're Staying In.

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Sly and the Family Stone - There's a Riot Going On

Alright friends. These are the facts, as best I can discern them:

Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of scrapping the Clean Power Plan and pulling America out of the Paris Climate Agreement. His transition website explicitly confirms his intention to do the former. He has made no formal statement since the election on the latter. This is no accident. This is classic Donald. He is waiting for the rest of the world to beg him not to leave. He will probably lead us on a merry dance of will-he-won’t-he. Don’t buy it. His intention to turn America into an unrepentant petro-state is crystal clear. He has appointed Myron Ebell to lead his EPA transition team. Both branches of the Congress are now firmly in the hands of climate change deniers. It is only a matter of time before the Supreme Court falls as well. Do not comfort yourself that perhaps, the worst will not happen. That sentiment is exactly what got us is into this mess.

Be clear-sighted about this, too: the wealth and power of the fossil fuel industry remains immense. This is not a case of an otherwise-failing industry being thrown a lifeline. This is a case of a phenomenally influential industry that had, after mammoth efforts, been somewhat threatened, now poised to come roaring back to life.

Also, this: Donald Trump is 70. Before he dies, he will amass an immense fortune. That fortune will protect his family from quite literally anything. Neither Donald Trump nor his family have any reason to fear climate change. They are safe, now. The rest of us are not.

This is it, my friends. This is the moment. You either accept climate science, or you do not. Now is the time to chose.

If you accept the science, you accept that if it is not stopped, climate change will wipe entire countries off the face of the Earth. That it will force millions of people into poverty. That it will make vast swaths of the world unlivable. That it will turn our oceans to acid. This will happen. In our lifetimes.

Every year that passes, every month that passes, every DAY that passes, our chances of avoiding this crisis grow slimmer. By 2020, it will, unquestionably, be too late.

This is, therefore, a moment of moral reckoning for the American people, one as profound as that of the Vietnam War or the conquest of Europe by fascism. Trump has, deliberately and fundamentally, scattered the world’s geopolitical map. But whatever other actions he takes, if he follows through with his explicitly signaled approach to climate and energy, America’s moral standing in the world is gone. Completely. Irrevocably. For good.

So. What are we going to do?

We’re going to stop him.

Here I stand, Martin Luther once said. I can do no other.

Under President Barack Obama, America made a pledge. It pledged to cut its carbon emissions. It pledged to support developing countries to cut theirs, and to help them deal with the consequences of climate change that are already unavoidable.

Under President Obama, America led the world to an unprecedented global agreement to stop climate change, and then pledged to abide by that agreement.

Under President Obama, America is still a democracy.

On November 15th, US Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Marrakech, Morocco, to attend the first ever Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. The American people must send him with a message:

We’re in.

And we’re staying in.

The American people must now take it upon themselves to ensure that their country does not abandon the world in the face of its first truly global crisis. We must refuse, with every fiber of our being, to concede to being that country. (I am not a citizen. But I have a visa to be in this country and I’ll be damned if I’m leaving at this point.) Donald Trump was validly elected President of the United States. Beyond that, we concede nothing.

Those not in America are not off the hook. Wherever you live, in the coming days your President or Prime Minister will call the US President-Elect to congratulate him, and to discuss plans for your two countries to work together. Your President or Prime Minister may be tempted to diplomatically forget to mention the issue of climate change. Don’t you dare let them.

On November 15th, there are already actions planned across America, and across the world, to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. Those actions are incredibly important on their own terms, as is elevating the voices of indigenous peoples everywhere. They are right. They have always been right. And they have always been far, far braver than the rest of us. The Sioux have refused to accept a more than $1 billion dollar settlement, currently sitting in the US Treasury, in return for acknowledging that their stolen lands were not stolen. Would that we could find 1/100th of that courage, that determination, that moral rectitude, at this moment in our history.

Because it is no longer enough to simply oppose Dakota Access - albeit that our opposition to that project must remain absolutely unwavering. Not just every oil pipeline executive but every. single. fossil fuel executive, whether they work for a private company or a state-owned company, everywhere, got out of bed last Wednesday morning with a brand new spring in their step. And I mean everywhere.

This is an industry that is entirely global in its reach. For that reason, we cannot fall back now and fight only local battles. We cannot rely on civil disobedience to prevent fossil fuel extraction from proceeding in Saudi Arabia, in Iran, in Russia. The only way we can avoid this crisis is if we stand together as citizens and insist that whatever else our governments might disagree on, on this they stand united: we will transform the global energy system away from fossil fuels, fast enough to avoid the unfathomable harm that will come from runaway climate change.

The world’s governments did that. In Paris. Last year.

However much it costs us in terms of delay, the fact that the UNFCCC operates by consensus means that we can say it unimpeachable certainty: every country in the world disagrees with Donald Trump on the need to take urgent action to combat climate change - including America. Now, we must make that fact manifest.

On November 15th, we need a global day of climate action as big and as inclusive as the People’s Climate March.

Under normal circumstances, organizing that scale of civil action in 3 days would be impossible.

These are not normal circumstances.

These are not normal circumstances, not only because of the magnitude of the climate crisis, but because this is not the only issue on which Donald Trump and those he has gathered around him present an unprecedented danger to the world’s most vulnerable people. We are all of us going to have to spend the next four years fighting to protect the lives and livelihoods of queer people, and trans people, and people of color, and undocumented people, and Muslims, and Jews, and women, and any other part of the patchwork of human diversity that Donald Trump’s America might try to attack or vilify. We are going to have to spend the next four years fighting for the livelihoods of poor people, everywhere, including in West Virginia coal country. We must have a plan to provide real solutions to the economic problems that (in part) propelled Trump to victory.

But to do any of that, we must first be united. We must see each other, and be seen. We must make our commitments plain. We must stand up. On this issue, at this moment, what we do now will shape everything that comes next.

On Tuesday the 15th, John Kerry will get off a plane in Marrakech, Morocco, to explain to the world what America’s position on climate change will be for the next four years.

What he says is up to you.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, in conjunction with the U.N.’s 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Morocco (Nov. 7-18), aka the climate-change conference. The series will put a spotlight on climate-change issues and the conference itself. To view the entire series, visit here.

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