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Mason experts explain the perils of leaving the Paris climate agreement

May 31, 2017

President Donald Trump announced the United States is pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, and experts in climate science from George Mason University were adamant the consequences from pulling out would be negative.

“In a word, terrible,” said David Hart, director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government, adding that the “abdication of global leadership (by the United States) will diminish confidence in the pact and discourage other nations from staying the course.”

Added Mona Sarfaty, director of the Program on Climate and Health within Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication: “Even before the decision to withdraw or stay in the Paris agreement, climate change has been damaging the health of Americans and other people around the world. We can only expect this choice to make our health future more perilous.”

The Post reported there is a small group of experts who believe withdrawal might actually be for the best. They say the Trump administration will fail to meet the climate goals the Obama administration set as part of the agreement, and staying in the accord while ignoring those commitments would be as damaging.

But Sarfaty said that rationale ignores the bigger picture, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

“The nation’s doctors already see how climate change leads to injuries and deaths due to extreme storms, severe heat waves, reduced air quality associated with wildfires, allergens and the spread of vector-borne diseases and recurrent floods,” she said. “The Paris agreement helps send the message that protecting Americans from more dramatic harms to health and well-being is fundamental.”

For Richard Kauzlarich, co-director of Mason’s Center for Energy Science and Policy and a former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, the policy consequences are just as dire.

“By pulling out of the Paris climate accords, something our European allies hold near and dear to their hearts, we have ceded leadership to China on this most important issue and made it almost impossible to win Europeans over to issues important to us—Syria, Iran and dealing with the global challenge of terrorism.”

David Hart can be reached at 703-993-2279 or dhart@gmu.edu.

Richard Kauzlarich can be reached at 703-993-9652 or rkauzlar@gmu.edu.

Mona Sarfaty can be reached at 240-338-7255 or msarfaty@gmu.edu.

For more information, contact Damian Cristodero at 703-993-9118 or dcristod@gmu.edu.

About George Mason

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 35,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.