PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s congressional delegation and other local leaders spoke out Thursday against President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
During his announcement, Trump said the deal was unfair to the United States, costing the country both jobs and wealth. He said he may try to re-enter the deal in the future if he can secure more favorable terms.
Much of the response from Rhode Island’s Democratic leadership was negative, calling the decision short-sighted and dangerous, but some remained optimistic about the future of the state and the country.
“President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy.”
Save the Bay’s director of advocacy, Topher Hamblett, mirrored the governor’s sentiment when he spoke to Eyewitness News, saying the decision won’t affect his organization’s mission.
“I do take some heart in our commitment here locally to deal with climate change,” said Hamblett. “The president can not stop that.”
Below are the full statements released by local leaders:
Rep. David Cicilline:
“The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a terrible mistake. It will diminish American leadership in the world, undermine our ability to create good-paying jobs, and contribute to the further degradation of our environment.
“It is very disappointing that we now know, without question, that the President of the United States is a climate change denier. His decision today ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the serious consequences failing to address climate change.
The only thing President Trump will accomplish by this decision is to set the United States and the world back decades in this fight. I have no doubt that future generations are going to wonder what the hell we were thinking today.”
Sen. Jack Reed:
“This is a shameful retreat by President Trump that places the interests of polluters ahead of national security, our economic future, and the common good. Even some of President Trump’s closest advisors and family members reportedly know he made the wrong call.
“Today’s announcement is a setback that will harm the environment, our economy, and public health.
“However, momentum to build a cleaner, healthier energy future is still on our side. American business leaders and investors aren’t waiting around for President Trump – they are already taking action because they see the great potential of clean tech and energy efficiency. They don’t want to lose out and they understand retreating from the Paris agreement is a short-sighted blow to America’s long-term economic competitiveness. A big worry is that the President’s announcement will likely result in more clean energy jobs and investment migrating from the United States to China — that’s money going somewhere other than manufacturing towns looking for more work.
“The American people strongly support common sense solutions to mitigate the threats of climate change. We will continue to make climate progress on the state and local level. That means making smart investments in clean energy development, holding big polluters accountable, and increasing the resilience of critical infrastructure from extreme weather and climate-related impacts.
“Confronting climate change and reducing greenhouses gasses will take an international effort. This is a temporary and costly setback. But eventually, America will lead again.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse:
Rep. Jim Langevin:
“President Trump’s ill-considered decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the future of our entire planet at risk. The withdrawal represents an abandonment of pledges to protect our environment and risks undermining the entire accord, which includes nearly every country on earth. In addition, the President’s action cedes Unites States leadership and means losing a seat at the table to negotiate global agreements in our country’s best interest.
“The Obama Administration made significant progress toward slowing the rapidly warming climate by negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions on a global scale. Unwinding these commitments represents another assault by President Trump on the health of the public and the planet. His Administration continues to deny climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows this is an ongoing human-caused crisis.
“Rhode Island is on the front lines of sea level rise, and our citizens will ultimately pay the price for inaction today. Communities like my hometown of Warwick are particularly vulnerable to the storms and floods that come with climate change. Warming seas have chased our traditional catch out of our fisheries and threaten to decimate our beloved Ocean State coastline. Abandoning the Paris deal, the culmination of a multi-year effort by world leaders, is an abdication of our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.”
Gov. Gina Raimondo:
“I am deeply disappointed that the President has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that the Paris Agreement is about so much more than climate change. It’s about opportunity, stewardship and America’s standing as a global leader. President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change. Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy. We’ve set a goal to secure 1000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020. Ocean State families and businesses are on the front lines fighting climate change. I will continue to work with the General Assembly and partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives, while creating new opportunities for our workforce in the process.”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker:
“While the decision by the Trump-Pence Administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is disappointing, the Commonwealth is committed to working with our partners around the nation and world to reduce carbon emissions. Despite today’s announcement, Massachusetts is aggressively working to exceed the goals of the Paris Agreement on the state level, while growing our economy through clean energy innovation and environmental stewardship. In Massachusetts and around the world, climate change is a shared reality and our ability to rise and respond to this challenge will shape future generations.”