Texas must join other states in climate change fight

Emma Berdanier

Following Trump’s refusal to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, many states have opted to work around him, signing pledges to follow the treaty and cut their carbon emissions. California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon are just a few of the states to sign onto this coalition, accompanied by numerous mayors, universities, and businesses. One state, however, is notably absent from this list — Texas.

There are many reasons why Texas should sign on to agree with the necessary preventative measures against climate change that our president dismissed and yet only one keeps them from doing so. The only reason Texas won’t sign on with other states and cities to follow the international treaty is partisan politics. The Republican majority government in Texas ensures that the state won’t bypass the orders of a Republican president, even if those orders aren’t in the state’s or the country’s best interest.

The Paris Climate Agreement focuses on reducing climate change, attempting to attack the growing issue with a global response that aims to incorporate both large and small countries. Some of the main goals of the treaty are to reduce the rising global temperatures, to increase climate change education to allow for a larger public understanding of the problem and to have a full transparency of participating parties. It also allows for a “global stocktake” in which every five years the treaty and its effectiveness will be reevaluated to ensure it’s actually fulfilling its purpose.

In short, the agreement is a step forward in an attempt to combat climate change on a global level and the US refusing to be a part of it is a major step back.

Texas should sign on with the other states who have agreed to uphold the measures of the agreement because it’s in the best interest of the state and of the effectiveness of the treaty. With the second largest state economy, Texas produced 1.64 trillion dollars of economic output in 2015. This would rank it as the world’s tenth largest economy, a feat that’s impressive and would add significant power to the list of states attempting to fight climate change.

Texas’s economy isn’t all oil. The state has strong holdings in green energy, namely in wind power. Wind farms throughout West Texas have only grown, and in the first quarter of 2017 wind energy accounted for 23 percent of power generation for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. This is a percentage that’s been growing over the years, a sign that Texas could make an effort to follow the treaty.

So far, of the top ten states with the highest carbon dioxide emissions, only California and New York have signed on to commit themselves to lowering their emissions. The top of that list is Texas, another key reason why the state should work within the bounds of the Paris Climate Agreement. Consistently topping the list of most carbon dioxide emissions, as it has for 24 years now, isn’t a feat that Texas should be proud of. Texas should be actively working to change their response to climate change so that they’re not known for having the worst impact on our environment.

By joining the coalition of other states and cities that have signed on to follow the Paris Climate Agreement, Texas can begin to improve their carbon emissions and their status among the states. Actively fighting climate change instead of refusing to acknowledge the issue would benefit Texas, as it’s already a major player in alternative energy and its role is only growing. To benefit both the state and the world at large, Texas should follow other state’s footsteps and sign the pledge to follow the Paris Climate Agreement.

Berdainer is a philosphy junior from Boulder, Colorodo. She is a senior columnist. Follow her on Twitter @eberdanier.