Energy & Environment at The Hill

Trump’s misguided thinking on Paris Agreement does disservice to America


As a member of Congress for over 22 years, I have made it my mission to advocate for the facts and to promote policies that are both aspirational yet grounded in reality.  I have endeavored to always seek the truth by discerning what is real from what is fake.  And when it comes to the issue of climate change, I have listened to the scientists.

Almost every credible scientific voice tells us human activity has and continues to have a dramatic impact on climate change.  Moreover, scientists have warned that inaction by the major industrialized nations of the world could lead to global catastrophe.  That is why I applauded American leadership in helping to draft the Paris Agreement, an aspirational document encouraging all nations to submit national climate goals every five years.

{mosads}The global pact, agreed to by 195 nations including the U.S., took effect last year.  And the United States is the 2nd largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. By the accounts of most scientific experts, it is an ambitious and noble effort to curb climate change. 


Trump has often questioned the need for such an agreement, and yet he has no scientific basis to pull away from the consensus of thought of most Americans.  According to Gallop, 54 percent of Americans find climate change to be a serious problem.  There is no political, scientific, or social justice mandate to pull away from this global pact.  The voices of reason must prevail.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was right when he stated, “If he [President Trump] does withdraw, that would be a definitive statement from the president that he believes climate change is a hoax.”

President Trump’s isolated and short-sighted view threatens to quash years of deliberation and work by corporate leaders, scientists, educators, social actors and others who work tirelessly to protect the planet.  Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would not only jeopardize America’s status as a world leader, but undermine our competitiveness in the emerging clean-environment global economy.

According to studies, China is the world leader in renewable energy investment, pouring more than $78 billion into renewable energy projects last year alone.  By contrast, the U.S. invested less than $24 billion last year.  Many jobs are at stake, and that means non-participation in the Paris Agreement could undermine American interests.

A resounding bipartisan chorus has called for continued American Participation.  From Republican and Democratic governors to members of Congress, the chorus of voices counseling against withdrawal  continues to grow. This agreement is voluntary.  Why have such a devastating decision with international consequences?

The president needs to recognize that he represents the entire country; not just the Trump Organization.  He is the president of the United States of America.  And most Americans want this nation to lead on battling climate change.  We cannot afford to be left behind as the rest of the world moves toward a clean economy. 

As we have done in the past, America must continue to lead.  If the President truly wants to ensure this nation’s greatness, then he will affirm America’s continued participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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