WELC statement on U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate agreement (Statement 6/1/17)

6/01/2017
Location: 
Taos

Today, President Trump stated he will withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement. This would deliberately reject the will of over 70 percent of Americans who support the agreement and the increasingly alarmed warnings from the scientific community that climate change, if left unchecked, will wreak havoc on the one home we love and share: Earth. 

"History will not look kindly on Trump," said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center. "His reckless decision cedes U.S. leadership and credibility on the world stage. But it’s worse than that. Trump’s decision is morally reprehensible, risking great suffering to all, but in particular to our most vulnerable wildlands, wildlife, and communities."

The American West is acutely aware of the causes and risks poised by climate change. New Mexico’s San Juan Basin and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, are, for example, sacrifice zones for our country’s reliance on fossil fuels, which drives climate change through the release of greenhouse gas pollution. At the same time, climate change—which Trump’s decision will worsen—exacerbates wildfires, degrades forest and land health, and stresses the West’s water resources and core infrastructure. Nationwide, Trump’s decision ignores an estimated $53 billion in climate disaster-related costs in the U.S. in 2016 alone and a Federal Emergency Management Agency conclusion that every $1 invested in disaster mitigation and community resilience saves $4 in future costs.

“Trump’s decision serves the fossil fuel industry’s ideological drive to maximize short-term corporate profits at the expense of the long-term public interest,” added Schlenker-Goodrich. “Today’s decision undercuts Trump’s already suspect credibility as well as the very social license and credibility of the fossil fuel industry. Let us remember that it is the fossil fuel industry that has sowed confusion and obstructed urgently needed climate action for decades. The time is coming when the public will demand a reckoning. As that point nears, the Trump administration and fossil fuel industry should be assured that we will wield the full power of the law to defend and to spark climate action.” 

The U.S. withdrawal from the agreement will align the nation with Syria as the only nations to deny the world assistance in mitigating our growing global climate crisis. Nicaragua, concerned that the agreement was not sufficiently ambitious, did not sign the agreement. The U.S. emits the second-most greenhouse gas pollution in the world, behind only China, which will remain a party to the Paris climate agreement.

Contact:
Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, Western Environmental Law Center, 575-770-1295, eriksg@westernlaw.org