Florida Democrats slammed the anticipated announcement by President Donald Trump that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, while several Florida Republicans urged Trump to keep America in the agreement.
Members of Congress and other political leaders were reacting late Tuesday and Wednesday to reports that Trump intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which all member countries except Syria and Nicaragua signed, to set goals for reduced carbon emissions.
Trump left the matter open Wednesday, tweeting that he would decide soon what to do. Various media reports indicated that sources within the White House were both signaling that he intends to pull out and cautioning he hasn’t decided for sure yet (New York Times, FoxNews, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal.)
Democrats on Wednesday were anticipating, with anger, that Trump would pull out of the Paris agreement. Florida Republicans who responded said they sure hope he won’t.
The potential impact on Florida, already experiencing damaging effects of rising sea levels according to many scientists, was stressed by many in their reactions.
“Our environment and our future are under attack today,” declared Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, who went on to vow he would fight for environmental protection for Florida on a state and national level. “Florida is the epicenter for climate change — and these decisions will hit us harder than the rest of the United States.”
Others pointed to the potential geopolitical ramifications of the United States becoming the only industrialized country — and the biggest — to reject the accord.
“Trump is making America irrelevant again,” declared Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando. “Climate change is real and human-made. Our country should remain in the Paris Accord and lead efforts to reduce carbon emissions to save our planet. With Florida being the most vulnerable state to rising sea levels, we face an even greater threat to our way of life now.”
And it wasn’t just Democrats expressing such sentiments. After all, The 24-member House Climate Solutions Caucus is co-chaired by Democrat Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Republican Carlos Curbelo of Kendall, and includes Republicans Brian Mast of Palm City, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami.
“U.S. should be using every opportunity + its influence 2 mitigate threat of #climatechange at home + abroad. #ParisAccord,” Ros-Lehtinen tweeted.
“I strongly encourage the president to remain in the Paris climate accord,” Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan wrote on Facebook. “Climate change is a serious issue, especially for a state like Florida that has two coastlines vulnerable to rising waters.”
In tweets, Curbelo said he agreed with Buchanan, and added, “Bipartisan #Climate Solutions Caucus must now redouble our efforts to build consensus for pro-growth clean energy policies #parisclimate.”
If any of Florida’s other Republican members of Congress disagree, they have not yet publicly responded.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson joined 39 other U.S. senators, mostly Democrats, last week in a letter urging Trump to stay in the agreement, and outlining environmental, economic and diplomatic reasons for doing so. On Wednesday he warned that Florida is on the line.
“Sea-level rise caused by the Earth heating up is a real threat to Florida. If the U.S. isn’t going to do its part to combat climate change, then the rest of the world won’t do theirs and millions of Floridians living along the coast will be at risk.”
Many other Democrats expressed outrage.
“What a fool,” state Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando wrote on Facebook. “Climate change is not a hoax and Miami-Dade will soon be underwater. Party of stupid, indeed!”
Among other statements:
In a written statement issued by her campaign, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham, a former member of Congress from Tallahassee, declared, “We are out of time — from stronger storms to prolonged droughts and raging wildfires, Florida is feeling the direct effects of climate change today.
“While the rest of the world moves forward, the United States under Trump and Florida under Rick Scott are in reverse. Scott has shown little more than lip service to remedial efforts, and Trump reneging on the Paris Agreement will place our environment, economy and national security at even greater risk.”
By midafternoon, there had been no statement from the other two major candidates for governor, Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam or Democratic businessman Chris King of Winter Park. Putnam’s campaign also did not respond to an inquiry about a challenging statement toward him issued by the Florida Democratic Party.
“The federal government is on the brink of leaving an international agreement that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s time for Adam Putnam to give an answer, worthy of a gubernatorial candidate,” the Florida Democratic Party challenged.
“Florida is ground zero for climate change and our state’s economy, health and well-being depend on our leaders in Tallahassee and Washington actively combating climate change. Does Adam Putnam support Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, which could lead to global temperatures reaching dangerously high levels and seriously threaten Florida’s environment and economy? Or will he continue to deflect questions on fighting climate change and protecting our economy?” FDP spokesperson Johanna Cervone said in the party’s statement.
Deutch issued a lengthy statement, declaring, “President Trump’s unfortunate decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement all but guarantees we cede our leadership on this issue so vital to our future to China, Russia, and Europe. Sadly, it’s just the latest move in a string of actions by this President that have damaged our international relationships and weakened our global standing.
“This decision has the potential to irreparably harm our earth, dramatically hinder our economic growth, and fundamentally change our way of life.
“South Florida is already struggling with the effects of climate change, like worsening weather patterns and rising sea levels. As sunny-day flooding becomes more common, the President responds by sticking his head in the sand in denial of the science and the reality in our own community. Will Mar-a-Lago Country Club need to be underwater for this president to make a responsible decision about climate change?
“If President Trump won’t listen to the scientists, then he should listen to the business leaders who strongly support the Paris Agreement. They understand that it will promote investments and create jobs. By removing the US from the Paris Agreement, this president is putting our country at a competitive disadvantage in the world.
“Most importantly, today’s decision puts our national security at risk. Even as our military leaders devise strategies to combat the effects of climate change, in our own country and globally, the president’s dangerous decision will make their job more difficult and our nation less secure.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg said in a written statement: “The Paris Climate Accord is a historic and shared commitment between nearly 200 countries to protect our environment and our future.
“It would be extremely disappointing and damaging for the U.S. to walk away from this commitment and surrender America’s leadership in climate stewardship. Withdrawal would cause lasting damage to our international relationships, global environment, and national economy. In my home state of Florida, the environment is our economy and we feel the effects of climate change on a daily basis. We must renew and strengthen these commitments, not turn our back on them. A decision to withdraw from the Accord would be shortsighted, irresponsible, and immoral.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of West Palm Beach wrote in a statement issued by his office: “President Trump’s intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement is an irresponsible renouncement of American leadership. The results of abandoning this international framework will be tragic, destructive, and costly, and will undermine the legitimacy of our country on the global stage.
“The United States cannot allow its foreign policy to be dictated by irrational nationalistic whims. The 195 signatory Paris Agreement was reached after painstaking negotiations. In signing, our country honored its commitment to leave future generations with a better world. Climate change is real, and we know what causes it. The Paris Agreement commits governments to working together to cap pollution levels and combat carbon emissions, which will reduce extreme climate events like drought, famine, and rising sea levels.
“Ignoring our international responsibilities jeopardizes the health and future of our country. President Trump needs to recognize that he is the President for all Americans, not just the privileged few. This destructive and shortsighted decision will have serious consequences, and the President should be held accountable for his irresponsible actions.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa declared the prospect a “huge economic blow to the state of Florida.”
“It will cost us jobs and leave Floridians on the hook for the higher costs of the changing climate. Trump is ceding America’s leadership in the world to other nations with disregard for the economic damage to our people,” she said in a written statement.
“Sixteen of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001, including 2016 which was the third consecutive record-breaking year. Floridians in particular face higher costs tied to rising AC bills, property insurance, flood insurance, local taxes for infrastructure fixes, extreme weather events, beach renourishment and more. The rising costs of the changing climate are a real threat for Florida families and businesses. Miami and Tampa Bay are among the top 10 regions in the world most at risk from property loss from flooding and sea level rise.
“Trump’s decision strikes at the heart of the economic boost that Florida and other states enjoyed due to expanding job opportunities in clean energy, green building, solar, energy efficiency and cogeneration. Clean energy jobs are on the upswing, much more so than jobs in industries tied to fossil fuels. Florida’s construction and manufacturing industries have long been anchors of the state’s economy, employing more than a half-million workers. These industries have steadily recovered from the recession that gripped Florida in 2007. An analysis by ICF International estimates that investing in clean energy would create 1 million new jobs in America by 2030 and 2 million jobs by 2050. Florida was on track to see 109,000 new jobs tied to clean energy construction and manufacturing by 2030, and 206,000 jobs by 2050.
“Solar energy would have accounted for many of the new jobs and economic growth, but Trump’s damaging new attack will set us back. The solar industry created jobs 12 times faster in solar construction, installation, operations and maintenance than those created in the overall U.S. workforce. In 2016, one out of every 50 new jobs in America was in solar energy. Solar workers already outnumber coal miners 3 to 1, and that trend will continue. Solar and wind also received a boost a couple of years ago when Congress extended the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit for five years. The solar ITC will continue at 30 percent for facilities commencing construction before Jan. 1, 2020, adding 220,000 jobs by 2020. The PTC will remain at 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour credit until it gradually phases out by Jan. 1, 2020, adding 100,000 jobs to the economy. Local businesses, architects and manufacturers already have started to build our clean energy economy. We know how to do it through solar energy, which has seen prices drop by 80 percent since 2009, and with energy efficiency, which is the lowest-cost source of energy.
“America should not take a back seat to others on clean energy jobs and the challenges posed by the changing climate. While America previously led the way on the international climate accord with nearly 200 countries including China and India committing to reduce carbon pollution to help preserve the planet for our children and grandchildren, Trump now cedes that leadership role, costs us jobs and passes along higher costs to America’s families — a poor legacy indeed.”
On Thursday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando weighed in:
“If the United States walks away from the Paris Agreement, we will be sending a strong message of indifference to our allies around the world,” she stated in a release issued by her office.
“Surrounded by coastlines, Florida knows the impact climate change and rising sea levels have on our homes, businesses and tourism. Additionally, Florida ecosystems, such as the Everglades, the Ten Thousand Islands, and the Big Bend coastline are already exhibiting signs of sea-level stress. We have a moral obligation to protect our natural resources for our children, their children and the generations to come. Our nation has to continue to be a global leader on Climate change.”