‘This is a huge mistake’: Florida politicians react to Trump’s exit from climate deal

Oakley and Casey Jones, tourists from Idaho Falls, navigate the flooded streets of Miami Beach during a September 2015 King Tide.
Oakley and Casey Jones, tourists from Idaho Falls, navigate the flooded streets of Miami Beach during a September 2015 King Tide. Miami Herald staff

In South Florida, one of the regions in the country most threatened by rising seas, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw Thursday from the Paris climate-change accord was not popular among politicians — even some from the president’s Republican Party.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, did not immediately comment on Trump’s move.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat thinking of running for Florida governor, was one of 61 mayors who pledged to uphold the Paris Agreement’s commitments. The mayors of Orlando, St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach were also on the list.

Here’s what the other politicians had to say:

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida: “This is a huge mistake. Sea-level rise caused by the Earth heating up is a real threat to Florida. If the U.S. isn’t going to do its part to combat climate change, then the rest of the world won’t do theirs and millions of Floridians living along the coast will be at risk.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston: “Coastal communities in my home state of Florida are already seeing a rise in sea levels, while drought, flooding, disease and famine are certain to become more severe as the effects of climate change take hold here and around the globe. Now is the time for Congress, state and local governments and the business community to take bold, decisive actions to slow down and mitigate the inevitable impacts of climate change. This President clearly lacks the common sense and courage to do so.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens: “By pulling out of the Paris climate change accord to keep a campaign promise to the voters who put him in office, President Donald Trump has broken a sacred promise to all Americans to safeguard their health and the environment.

“Instead of leading a worldwide effort to help curb global warming and its detrimental effects, the United States joins a dubious club that includes Nicaragua and Syria in turning its back on an opportunity to help save the world.

“Instead of pushing industries that are not only dying but also kill, President Trump and his team should be taking advantage of opportunities to create new industries that will generate jobs and economic growth. Indeed, many of the nation’s leading businesses implored the administration to stick with the Paris agreement because it will help them become more competitive, but the president is turning a deaf ear to appeal to his base after a firestorm of unpleasant and controversial headlines.

“This move, combined with the administration’s efforts to dismantle domestic policies and regulations put in place right previous wrongs and keep the nation’s environment safe is setting the United States on a dangerous course.

And, denying the obvious and claiming that global warming is a hoax is especially disconcerting for Floridians, where issues like the greenhouse effect on water levels and flooding are a major concern. The real hoax is being played on Trump’s supporters who will be among those who stand to suffer the most from this administration’s policies, from efforts to take away their health care to steps that make the air they breathe and the water they drink less safe.

“In his remarks, the president implied that the other countries that are partners in the Paris agreement were using it to take advantage of the United States. He said he didn’t want the leaders of those countries ‘laughing at us anymore.’ I doubt that was the case, but would not be surprised if they are laughing now after this unwise move.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican in a nonpartisan post: “It will be business as usual in Miami-Dade County. We will continue to protect our critical County assets from extreme high tides and hurricane storm surge, including calculating for higher sea level rise.

“We will continue to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through energy conservation, expansion of solar energy generation, increased use of electric vehicles, and using innovative new technologies.

“I also remain committed to the goals of the U.S.-Climate Leaders Summit. In 2015, I was one of eight U.S. mayors who were invited to sign an agreement with eight mayors from China at the summit in Los Angeles. I signed a commitment to meet certain benchmarks to reduce carbon emissions, most of which Miami-Dade County has been actively doing for several years and as far as we know, are more stringent than the Paris Agreement.

“We will continue to work with our 34 cities to prepare a Resilience Strategy in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Program. We will also continue to collaborate with our neighboring counties as part of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Miami-Dade County will always remain committed to a clean and sustainable future for all of our residents.”

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