President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement could directly impact Northwest Arkansas. The move fulfills a Trump campaign promise, and defies those who pleaded with the president not to leave the pact that 195 other nations signed.
Sometimes a negative can turn into a positive, and that’s what the city of Fayetteville hopes to do with Thursday’s news. But, local sustainability leaders said this is even bigger than an environmental impact, it’s also an economic impact.
Marty Matlock, Exec. Director, U of A Office of Sustainability said,”It says we’re not all in this together. That we the United States can go in it alone, but we can’t. We’re a global community, a global economy.”
“I think it sends, unfortunately, a negative message to the rest of the world,” said Peter Nierengarten, Director of Sustainability, City of Fayetteville
The agreement, in short, unites every country in the world, except Syria, Nicaragua and now the U.SS, to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“It was a very powerful statement for the world, for the world’s community of nations to say we will work together to achieve this common good for humanity,” explained Matlock.
Matlock said this doesn’t just hurt the environment, but Arkansas business.
“The soybean farmer in eastern Arkansas is an international market participant,” said Matlock. “These sorts of actions undermine our ability to reach those markets. They reduce the profitability potential of our farmers in Eastern Arkansas. Everything is connected.”
Matlock adds, even the biggest businesses in the natural state benefit from sustainable business.
“The good news is that globally sustainability initiatives have been led by citizens groups, by companies, by communites..not by national governments,” said Matlock.
The city of Fayetteville agrees, they joined 60 other cities across the nation urging Trump not to pull out of the agreement. Nierengarten said this isn’t going to stop them from moving forward and investing in renewable energy.
“We really feel like at the local level, that’s where action is going to continue to take place. And we’re going to continue and lead as part of that,” said Nierengarten.
He hopes this doesn’t’ put a black eye on all the efforts millions in the U.S. have put towards sustainability.
“Cities, states, universities and business leaders in the US are still committed to upholding the principals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and were committed to still moving forward regardless of what federal leaders in Washington D.C. have to say about that,” said Nierengarten.
KNWA was also told one positive that could come out of this situation is the United States may realize how important global agreements are. If the U.S. re-engages in the agreement it will be in an aggressive and meaningful way.