Defying Trump Little Rock, Fayetteville mayors remain committed to Paris Climate Accord

Mayor Stodola promises to keep Paris Agreement

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – President Donald Trump declared Thursday that the United States would leave the Paris Climate Accord, a move that majorities of both scientists and world leaders claim will greatly weaken efforts to combat climate change.

In his Rose Garden announcement at the White House, Mr. Trump said that the landmark agreement signed by 195 nations imposed unfair environmental standards on the United States and the nation’s workers.

“We are getting out,” decried Mr. Trump. “As President I can put no other consideration before the well-being of American citizens.”

In response to the controversial withdrawal, 92 mayors from across the nation publicly committed to “uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.” In a Medium post, the Climate Mayors stated that their cities—which nearly 44 million Americans call home—will intensify efforts to combat the planet’s warming climate. The mayors vowed to work with other nations to meet the climate agreement’s projected 1.5 degrees Celsius reduction in global temperature.

Both Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan were among the mayors that agreed to follow the accord, despite the administration’s decision to withdrawal. Mr. Stodola called Mr. Trump's announcement a "political decision," saying it was contrary to wishes of "the United States and global science and business communities, the American people, mayors, the majority of Congress, his own Secretary of State, and the U.S. military."

Mr. Trump cast doubt on the ability to reduce the temperature by the agreement’s desired amount. For evidence, the President incorrectly cited a 2015 MIT study that projected only a 0.2 degrees Celsius reduction.

“Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a 2/10 of one degree – think of that,” said Mr. Trump. He added the false amount was just a “tiny, tiny amount.”

Erwan Monier, the co-author of the study and its principal research scientist, told the MIT Technology Review that the White House “cherry-picked” the lowest estimate they could find among all studies conducted to examine the accord’s impact. Seemingly unbeknownst to the administration, MIT conducted a study in 2016, which actually included all 195 nations’ updated pledges. That study projected between 0.6 and 1.1 degrees Celsius reduction in the global temperature. In no study conducted by MIT did professional climate scientists and researchers find that the Paris Climate Accord was not worth the commitment.

“This idea that the Paris agreement has a negligible impact on future climate change is certainly not what we conveyed and was not the conclusion of our analysis,” explained Mr. Monier to MIT Technology Review. He also stated that no White House official contact him or any member of the research group to discuss their findings.

Mr. Trump did signal that his administration would work with the other 194 leaders to negotiate the deal, saying that he wants to “ensure that America remains the world’s leader on environmental issues,” but only “under a framework that is fair and where the burdens and responsibilities are equally shared among the many nations.” However, the leaders of Germany, France, and Italy quickly dismissed any potential re-working of the accord. In rare joint statement, the three leaders said the agreement will remain irreversible as it is “a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.”

The President did not acknowledge that the details of the agreement were self-imposed by each nation and nonbinding. 

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox and Friends Friday that “for some reason or another” climate change has become a “paramount issue for the Left in this country and around the world.” He added that by agreeing to the accord former President Barack Obama put “a real burden on our economy and on our people.”

Republican Senator John Boozman from Arkansas joined others in his party, thanking President Trump for the decision.

“I commend President Trump for taking the appropriate steps to make a clean exit from it so we can continue to pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to meeting our energy needs,” said Mr. Boozman in a released statement. 

While Mr. Boozman did stress the need to develop energy alternatives, Mr. Trump's position on climate change remains much more in doubt. He infamously tweeted in 2012 that the "concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese." Ad in 2015, he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that he is "not a believer in man-made global warming." 

When asked about whether the President believes that the climate is warming, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, "Honestly, I haven't asked him that."

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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