Senator Lee supports Paris Agreement withdrawal

Carolyn Carter
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks at Utah Valley University on a budget amendment. Lee said he supports the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the economic opportunities it will give Americans. (Carolyn Carter)

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, announced in a press release withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was “absolutely the right decision” and said it would give Americans greater economic opportunity and cheaper and more flexible energy choices in the future.

Lee’s communications director Conn Carroll said Lee believes climate change is real, but that it’s a engineering problem, not a political problem. He said the problem would be solved by allowing the free market to work.

President Donald Trump announced June 1, 2017 the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement and will work on negotiations to re-enter. Trump said the agreement penalized the U.S. through lost jobs, lower wages and diminished economic production. He said the environmental difference the agreement would make is so small it is not worth the economic consequences.

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said in the statement.

BYU associate professor of plant and wildlife sciences Zachary Aanderud has written multiple papers on how bacteria regulates greenhouse gases. Aanderud said the climate is changing and people are responsible.

“Regardless of your politics, it is short-sighted of us to pull out of an international agreement to help fix the problem,” Aanderud said in an email. “We, as citizens of the United States, have the largest ecological footprint and contribute disproportionately to the problem.”

BYU biology professor Sam St. Clair studies the effect of climate change on forests and deserts. St. Clair said he believes the Paris Agreement is effective in combating climate change, and Trump is ignoring science.

“As a scientist that does research on the effects of climate change, pulling out of the Paris Agreement is deeply disturbing to me,” St. Clair said in an email.

According to the United Nations website, the Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016 “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change” by limiting global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius and pursing efforts to limit it further to 1.5 degrees.

The Paris Agreement also requires all involved parties to put forward “nationally determined contributions,” or proposed climate action individual countries decide on in order to contribute toward the global temperature goal. The parties must also regularly report on emissions and implementation efforts. The U.S. announced in a report its nationally determined contribution is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 level by 2025.

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