Following the June 1 announcement from President Donald Trump that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/01/statement-president-trump-paris-climate-accord) a number of engineering firms, building groups, and higher education organizations issued press releases offering their responses. Following is a sample of those statements:
CH2M Chairman and CEO Jacqueline Hinman released the following statement:
“CH2M leads in the delivery of sustainable solutions for infrastructure and industry by implementing innovative and resilient projects that not only reduce carbon impacts, but also achieve sustained social, economic and environmental benefits. We stand with our clients today by reaffirming our longstanding commitment to advance the aims of the Paris climate accord.
“Our soon-to-be published Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship Report cites quantifiable examples of the positive, sustainable difference we’re making around the world, realizing triple bottom-line returns in the delivery of iconic infrastructure, innovative facilities, and world-class communities. We’ll continue blazing new trails with our clients, applying innovation and technology to improve both the built and natural environment.”
USGBC and GBCI president and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam, issued the following statement:
“At USGBC, we implore you to stay strong and focused and to keep building. And remember: we stand with you, and we are all in. Let’s continue to LEED on.
“As many know, the Paris Agreement, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), establishes voluntary actions to address greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change mitigation and adaptation — and 194 countries around the world are signatories. The United States government has an opportunity to lead on this, and in so doing, to strengthen global partnerships, yet it has chosen to walk away. We are deeply disappointed to learn of the administration’s decision to withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement today.
“We are facing an important crossroads, and America must keep building. We need to keep building bridges and bonds and breaking barriers in the push for a sustainable future for all. Although the pullout of the U.S. government from the Paris Agreement will be felt across the world, the surge of climate commitments and actions by the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, governments, cities and states will only serve to strengthen the green building movement and keep pushing us forward.
“For 24 years, USGBC has led the green building movement with a strong vision—that buildings, communities and cities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within this generation. Today, our efforts continue unabated and with commitment and hope that’s stronger than ever.
“Yes, hope. We are hopeful for the future because we know that our movement is a community of 13 million strong, and it’s growing. We are encouraged by the continued commitment of this community to build a sustainable future for all.
“U.S. companies, including many USGBC members, are already working to address business risks from climate change and to adapt their businesses to domestic and global opportunities created around climate-mitigation needs. Businesses and local governments are wisely seeking and investing in low-carbon fuels and technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the global economy. And with platforms like Arc, more and more companies and government entities are tracking their carbon emissions, committing to reduction targets and taking action.
“Right now, “business as usual” is no longer an option. With the work of our organization, our members, our volunteers and many others, we have reached the point where the transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable, but making the transition remains urgent.
“All around us, we see that new leaders who are ready to rise, inspired by the promise of a brighter future for our children and for generations to come. They are the big corporations and small business owners, educators and innovators, scientists and activists, nonprofit employees and policymakers, advocates and more who are working every day to change our world, definitively, for the better. To these leaders, green building is the key solution to pushing our built environment to be supportive and restorative of all life.”
Massachusetts Institute of Technology President L. Rafael Reif issued the following statement:
“To the members of the MIT community,
“Yesterday, the White House took the position that the Paris climate agreement — a landmark effort to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions — was a bad deal for America. Other nations have made clear that the deal is not open to renegotiation. And unfortunately, there is no negotiating with the scientific facts.
“I believe all of us have a responsibility to stand up for concerted global action to combat and adapt to climate change.
“At MIT, we take great care to get the science right. The scientific consensus is overwhelming: As human activity emits more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the global average surface temperature will continue to rise, driving rising sea levels and extreme weather.
“Global warming is not a distant problem — not distant in time or space. Communities across the United States and around the world are already experiencing the impacts. Without immediate and concerted action, the damaging consequences will grow worse. As the Pentagon describes it, climate change is a “threat multiplier,” because its direct effects intensify other challenges, including mass migrations and zero-sum conflicts over existential resources like water and food. In short, global warming and its consequences present risks too grave to gamble with.
“A global problem demands a global solution. With the Paris agreement, for the first time in history, 190+ nations agreed to work together to do something about it. In signing it, the U.S. was acting in concert with other nations, with the U.S. setting its own level of carbon reductions. The truth is that unless every nation joins in the solution, every nation will join in the suffering.
“To solve this global problem, we must transform the global energy status quo. The Paris agreement is an important beginning: a mechanism that drives progress on emissions right away and speeds up progress over time. (Incidentally, MIT announced its own greenhouse gas reduction goal in October 2015, a month before the Paris conference, with our Plan for Action on Climate Change, which commits us to reducing our campus emissions at least 32 percent by 2030.) With this running start, humanity has time to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. But the longer we hesitate, the lower the odds of success; the carbon dioxide our cars and power plants emit today will linger in the atmosphere for a thousand years.
“Climate change arguably represents the greatest threat of this generation. Fortunately, it also represents a tremendous opportunity. Already, hundreds of thousands of Americans work in the clean energy sector, and growth in clean energy jobs is rising fast: In 2016 alone, solar industry employment grew by 25 percent, while wind jobs grew 32 percent. As a nation, if we choose to invest in the relevant research, we have the opportunity to continue to lead, developing new energy technologies that will generate high-value exports and high-quality American jobs — the jobs of the future. That is in no way to minimize the disruption that the changing energy economy will cause to some workers and regions. But the solution to that problem is not to deny scientific facts and give away economic opportunity. If we don’t seize this chance, other nations certainly will. By withdrawing from the Paris accord, the U.S. is surrendering leadership in a priceless global market.
“I am encouraged, however, to see so much leadership at the state and city level, in industry and at universities — here in Massachusetts and nationwide.
“Time and again, this country has risen to civilizational challenges with a sense of optimism, creativity and drive. I hope that the people of the United States will — as a matter of service to the nation and the world — continue to take the lead in pursuing a carbon-free future.
In this work, the people of MIT have a special role to play. I look forward to working with you as we step up to the challenge.”