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Environment & Science

CNY Supporters of the Paris Accord Concerned About Long-Term Consequences

Scott Willis

President Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement has been making waves throughout the country and Central New York.  Strong supporters for the agreement want Congressmember John Katko to take their voices of opposition back to Washington.  Coordinator for New Yorkers for Clean Power, Renee Vogelsang  says  the U.S. is one of only three countries excluded from the agreement.

"The United States being one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, an also a big powerful nation, pulling out of something that isn't even debated amongst the scientific and global community.  It's an embarrassment."

Nearly 200 nations have signed on to the agreement. S.U. Maxwell School Professor Robert Wilson believes that Trump hasn’t taken climate change seriously when citing the steep costs of the Paris Agreement as a major reason not to sign.

"With more flooding in places like Miami or Norfolk or parts of New Jersey...people's homes are at risk.  If you're middle class, if you have wealth, it is probably in your home.  One of the things we haven't said enough is how climate change and sea level rise is a threat to people's homes, livelihoods and retirements."

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Professor Wilson has been an active member of the climate movement for years, protesting the Keystone Pipeline in 2011 and even spending time in jail with environmental activist Bill McKibben.  Wilson’s confidence in the movement stems from the massive and diverse group of people involved, ranging from landowners in the Midwest concerned about pipelines to Central New York students at SUNY ESF and Syracuse. One such student is Harris Eisenhardt, a Sustainable Energy Management student at ESF. He says even though he and his classmates are unhappy with the decision, they’re staying true to their priorities.

SUNY ESF Professor Neil Murphy is disappointed with the President’s decision, but has some confidence that states will help make up the difference.

"Our disengagement is very disappointing.  But I've heard there are 24 states who have committed themselves, if the federal government pulls out of the Paris agreement, that those states themselves would be signatories.  

The national response to Trump’s decision has been just as heated as the local reaction. Two substantial members of the President’s Strategic and Policy forum, Disney’s Bob Iger and Tesla’s Elon Musk, have stepped down due to the decision and publicly expressed their belief in the danger of climate change and the importance of the Paris Agreement.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Renee Vogelsang, left, addresses the crowd. She's a coordinator with New Yorkers for Clean Power.