Local leaders react to United States' Paris climate accord withdrawal

Local leaders spoke to KVUE about their environmental goals and reaction to the US withdrawing form the Paris Climate Accord.

Following President Donald Trump's announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, dozens of local mayors, including Austin's Steve Adler, pledged to uphold the policies.

In a letter posted online, the "Climate Mayors", also known as the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, voiced their disapproval to the President's decision.

"Regardless of what happens on the federal level, there's still real work and real leadership that we can do and show here in Austin," explained Mayor Adler.

He said moving forward with these regulations will only help Austin.

"We are communities that are driven by a hope for a better world, and a recognition that we'll get there if we can do innovation, if we can do sustainability well. And that's what our city's all about," Adler said.

They are policies that are already in motion.

"(Austin) is a city that just recently significantly increased the amount of solar energy we use," said Adler.

Mayor Adler was joined by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Mayor Scott A. Saunders of Smithville as the lone Texan mayors to sign on as of Thursday night. In total, 76 mayors across the country had signed as of Thursday night, while the governors of Washington, New York, and California have called for a United States Climate Alliance to fight climate change.

Last year, Georgetown pledged to go 100 percent renewable energy city-wide.

Despite today's decision, Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross said that plan is still in motion. In a statement, Ross told KVUE:

"President Trump announced today his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Mr. Trump’s decision does not negatively affect the decision the City of Georgetown made to go to 100 percent renewable energy. We entered into 20 and 25-year long-term, fixed price, wind and solar contracts that bring cost certainty to our rate-payers.

"When we made the decision to go to 100 percent renewable energy, our two primary goals were to eliminate price volatility in the market and to mitigate governmental or regulatory risk in the long-term. Today’s news falls into the governmental risk category and demonstrates that our strategy easily mitigates these types of national news events. As we move forward, we will continue to make decisions that are both economically and environmentally sound."

Shortly after President Trump's announcement, a small group of protesters with Environment Texas huddled outside the Capitol.

"Texas is a national leader for wind power, we're an emerging leader in solar power, as well as in solar efficiency. Those are all technologies and energy that we could be selling to other states - and even other countries," said Luke Metzger, the group's director.

The president argued that agreement killed jobs and hurt business - points that Metzger disagreed with.

"But now by walking away from the global agreement, we're going to be missing out on those opportunities. The world is going to carry forward without us. So it's a huge step backwards for our environment and our economy," said Metzger.

Several Republicans, including Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, supported President Trump's choice to withdraw.

In a statement, Sen. Cornyn wrote:

“I applaud the President’s decision today as he continues to turn the page on the previous Administration’s job-killing regulatory agenda. For eight years the Obama White House waged a war on American energy producers, and they characteristically overstepped their authority by unilaterally entering into this agreement. Working together, Congress and the Trump Administration should instead promote innovation-driven energy policies that fit the diverse needs of consumers, businesses, and a growing economy alike."

In a statement on his Facebook account, Sen. Cruz wrote:

"I commend President Donald J. Trump for putting American jobs first. This is great news for the Texas economy and for hardworking Americans all across our country.

"This is great news for family budgets, which under the Obama Paris plan would have seen significant increases in costs for utilities and nearly everything powered by fossil fuels, which accounts for 82 percent of all the energy generated in the United States.

"The Paris agreement would have destroyed $3 trillion in American GDP and killed 6.5 million industrial sector jobs by 2040, while even EPA’s own models conclude that it will have a negligible impact on global temperatures. And, it gave Russia and China and India a free pass, while hammering American jobs.

"I look forward continuing to work closely with the administration throughout the withdrawal process, and my number-one priority will continue to be fighting for Texans to advance policies that create jobs, grow the economy, and protect family budgets."

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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