The headline in both the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle today read the same thing – “We’re Getting Out.” These words were taken directly from the speech President Donald Trump gave yesterday when he announced the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement.
Both of Texas’ U.S. Senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, came out in favor of the move. Cornyn says it’s turning the page on the previous administration’s “job-killing regulatory agenda.” Cruz calls the decision great news for the Texas economy.
But is it? And how about for the Texas climate?
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is considered one of the world’s leading climate scientists. She’s an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is also director of the Climate Science Center. She says Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement will be bad news for the Texas economy.
“I think that it means there will be a negative impact on the economy from leaving the agreement,” Hayhoe says. “The Paris agreement was a climate treaty, but even more than that, it was a giant global trade agreement to foster innovation and technological development in clean energy and resilient infrastructure, in which Texas is already one of the leaders in the United States.”
On other countries’ leadership in renewable energy:
“China and India are already leading the way in terms of investment in renewables and growing jobs in clean energy. The U.S. has already slipped to third in Ernst & Young’s list of most attractive countries to invest in renewable technology. And we could slip even further with this decision. That is bad news for Texas, because it is one of the areas where we are experiencing our biggest growth economically.”
On what happens to the Paris agreement without the U.S.:
“The Paris agreement will continue. It already has a critical mass. But it will be much harder to meet those targets without one of the biggest emitters in the entire world. A future president could always rejoin the Paris agreement. And in fact, the withdrawal won’t even take effect until 2020. But during that time, the U.S. will have given up its seat at the table to participate in and have a voice in the negotiations that follow concerning trade, economic development [and] technological innovation.”
On the future effects of climate change and withdrawal from the Paris agreement:
“We’re not going to see the economic effect immediately. It’s going to be more of a trickle-down effect as slowly other countries move forward as the U.S. momentum slows down and eventually starts to move backward. So that gap between what’s going on around the world and what’s going on at home is going to get wider and wider and wider, year by year by year.”
On how cities and other entities in Texas are responding to climate change:
“Here in Texas we have towns like Georgetown, near Austin, going 100 percent renewable simply to save money. We have Fort Hood, the biggest Army base in the entire country – They’re going with wind and solar energy for their new electricity contract because they’re going to save about $168 million worth of taxpayer money over the length of the contract.”
On the benefits to Texas of leaving the Paris agreement:
“The only benefit is really to people who feel the satisfaction of giving the rest of the world the finger.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.