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US Back in Paris Climate Accord Helps SUNY ESF Research, NY State Actions on Climate Crisis

WAER File Photo

Environmental Experts say the rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreement by the United States will have tangible impacts in New York and right here in Syracuse as well.  Bringing the country back into the accord was among the first Executive Orders signed by President Joe Biden on the day of his inauguration. 


"Important," "hopeful," "symbolic" are amont the reactions from the head of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.  There’s both a symbolic boost to climate crisis work and a practical one as well.  That’s how SUNY ESF President Joanie Mahoney sees it.  Rejoining the Paris agreement helps, but having the White House go from detractor to supporter might be more significant.

“This leadership by the federal government brings enthusiasm to students who want to study environmental science and forestry.  And I know it will open opportunities for federal grants at the national Science Foundation, national Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency.  The federal agencies all having a mandate now will look to partners like ESF to fund the research,”  said Mahoney.  

New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act more than a year ago, which set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, when Washington was not supportive.  And Mahoney says the Federal action now can only add to the state’s success.

“Putting a seat at the table literally in the President’s cabinet that represents science is going to make the work that we do here at ESF and the work that New York State is doing, and all of these countries across the world, we’re all pulling in the same direction.  We are all setting the same goals; we are far more likely to meet those goals.”

Mahoney adds that even with moves by the Trump administration to deny climate change and ease regulations that would have reduced emissions, research into dealing with the climate crisis continued at ESF and elsewhere. 

“We lost momentum here in the United States in terms of our commitment and form the position of the United States setting the tone.  For the folks that didn’t want to meet those goals, we made it easy.  But the truth is, the work has gone on.  Here at ESF there’s no slowing down on the research that’s being done on climate change.  I’m sure that’s true all across the world.”

She calls it a source of hope that policy in Washington will now work in concert. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.