Withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement “huge loss”

Video by Janiah Adams
Janiah Adams/Contributing Writer

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a huge loss, according to a professor of biological sciences at the University.

The Paris Climate agreement is an international agreement enacted in 2016 to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and limit the extent of climate change. Trump made the announcement to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement on Thursday, June 1 and has faced backlash for it.

Philip Stoddard, professor and mayor of South Miami, sees zero benefits to the president’s decision to leave this agreement.

“By turning our back on this, the United States is really ceding the opportunity to become the world leader in these new emerging technologies, giving up huge growth potential, huge job potential, and ending the American century, and this really marks it,” Stoddard said.

Stoddard, who participated in the series of marches recently held across the country called March for Science, and spoke at the march held in Miami, says the agreement was the “biggest positive international step forward to date” and China, he said, will start to fill the void the U.S. is going to leave.

“The United States has said we’re not going to be a world leader on the planet anymore,” Stoddard said. “We’re giving over that role to the Chinese and it amounts to a multi-trillion dollar gift to the Chinese from the U.S.”

Stoddard feels that this is a gift the Chinese will take great advantage of.

“They [China] weren’t expecting to take a world leadership position, but they’re figuring it out very quickly that this is an opportunity for them and they’re going to move in,” Stoddard said.

Time Magazine reports that during the four-day long Eighth Clean Ministerial (CEM8) in Beijing, a meeting scheduled long before Trump’s announcement to leave the agreement, China led discussions on deploying clean energy throughout the globe. They’ve also launched many initiatives concerning clean energy and announced partnerships with countries from around the globe to fight climate change, Time reports.

“The other big piece of it is it [the agreement] can serve as a driver for new technologies in the United States, for renewable energy, for battery power, and battery back-ups,” Stoddard said. “The U.S. has emitted more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than any other nation … we have probably the most flexibility in terms of reducing our emissions of any nation in the world.”

Chikanma Pondexter, a student majoring in biology, is against Trump’s decision.

“… It affects all of us, and I would think that a person that’s running our country would set the example that these are things that matter,” Pondexter said. “But he very much has shown that basically he’s kind of sweeping it under the rug and that he doesn’t really care about these things.”

Jorge Martinez, a nursing major, echoed Pondexter’s sentiment.

“Those rules were never enforced for any country, so each country had to, on its own, place a certain budget for themselves and they had to manage themselves,” Martinez said. “Many countries would not even enforce anything period, and yet they were part of the agreement.”

Because it takes a certain amount of time to withdraw from the accord, it’s possible that by the time the U.S. can officially withdraw, there could be a new president in place to undo that action, Stoddard said.  

There are also several efforts taking place around the country to support the climate agreement by those who disagree with the actions taken by Trump. Hawaii became the first state to align its goals with that of the Paris climate agreement, the Associated Press reports, and it has enacted legislation that implements part of the agreement, which includes reducing carbon emissions.

But, for the meantime, Stoddard is disappointed.

“Four years of leadership potential are lost, a huge amount of international goodwill has been squandered,” Stoddard said. “The U.S. really worked to promote this agreement. It’s been working towards this for 20 years and just to dash it on the rocks is just the height of insanity.”


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