Curbelo: U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Agreement A Strategic Mistake That Sets Us Back
Curbelo: “It's really hard to have an impact from the outside. And again, we’ve yielded leadership in this area to the Chinese, to the Russians, and to others, and we’ve also put our country on a list together with Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua. That's not the kind of list I want to be on”
Following President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement negotiated under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC), Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) joined CNN’s Jake Tapper to give his reaction and discuss what this means for the environment and American economy.
A transcript of Curbelo’s comments is available below and video is available here.
Representative Carlos Curbelo: “Jake this is a strategic mistake and something that really sets us back. I don't know about the people of Pittsburgh, who I have great respect for, but people in South Florida live between the Everglades and the ocean. Most of us live near sea level and near the sea.
“We're already seeing the effects of salt water intrusion into the Everglades, which threatens our drinking water supply. We’re also seeing coastal properties under threat, real estate, billions and billions of dollars. So, down here in South Florida, we understand that the environment and the economy are one in the same, and we understand that pollution and CO2 emissions don’t respect national - and even continental- boundaries. What happens in India, what happens in China, has an impact on all of us.
“So, I'm very disappointed that we've withdrawn; that we have left our seat at the table vacant; that we have yielded leadership to countries like China, like Russia. I really hope this administration reconsiders and adopts a responsible environmental climate policy that promotes American innovation, job growth in this country, the jobs of the future, the jobs that young people who are graduating from college need. So, down here in South Florida, I know there is a lot of disappointment today as a result of this decision.”
Curbelo: “Jake, regrettably this issue has been politicized and the polarization is out of control. I really think it dates back to when former Vice President Gore adopted this cause. Back then, a lot of Republicans just assumed that they must be against whatever Mr. Gore was discussing at the time. I don’t blame him for having adopted the cause, but I really wish he would have done it with a fellow Republican.
“That is what we are trying to do in the Congress right now. My colleague from up the road here, Congressman Ted Deutsch, who is a Democrat, and myself, a Republican, we are building a Caucus in the House of Representatives. We have 40 members already- 20 Republicans, 20 Democrats. That’s the rule. You can only join if you come in with a member from the opposing party, and we are all making a statement that this issue matters to us. We understand that our economy depends upon a healthy environment and that we are going to fight for sound, reasonable pro-growth environmental policies in the Congress. If the Administration doesn't want to lead on this issue, the Congress must. We’re trying to build an environment in Congress that will allow for that.”
Curbelo: “Jake, I'm not saying the Paris Agreement was perfect. But I think if we wanted to change it, if we wanted to update it, if we wanted stronger protections for our country, we should have stayed at the table. It’s very difficult to modify an agreement, an organization, from the outside. When you're on the inside you can really work with your partners and make progress, and we've kind of seen that on NATO where the President has put some pressure — not using the style I would use — on some of our allies there and some of those countries have agreed to invest more in their defense budgets. That’s good, but it's really hard to have an impact from the outside. And again, we’ve yielded leadership in this area to the Chinese, to the Russians, and to others, and we’ve also put our country on a list together with Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua. That's not the kind of list I want to be on.”