By a vote of 52-16-6, the full Assembly on Thursday approved a measure (AR-263) sponsored by Mercer County’s Assembly members Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Andrew Zwicker, officially condemning President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.
“The president’s decision to withdraw the United States from this landmark agreement will seriously weaken global efforts to avoid drastic climate change,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This was shortsighted, ill-advised and, ultimately, will put vulnerable populations at greater risk by increasing imminent threats such as disease, famine and poverty. I’m pleased that so many of my colleagues have stood together to condemn this decision.”
The accord, also known as the “Paris Agreement,” is a landmark international agreement reached in 2015 between 195 countries aimed at reducing carbon emissions, slowing rising global temperatures, and helping countries deal with the effects of climate change. Under the Paris Agreement, every participating country agreed to submit an individual plan to tackle its greenhouse gas emissions and to report regularly on its emissions and progress made in implementing and achieving its nationally determined contributions.
The sponsors noted that the agreement ended the strict differentiation between developed and developing countries that characterized earlier efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and replaced it with a common framework that commits all participating countries to put forward their best efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The president’s misunderstanding of the MIT report was just one of many erroneous justifications he used for pulling out of this historic agreement,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). “The overarching message is that if we doing nothing to stem climate change the effects will be disastrous. And contrary to the president’s other argument, the transition to renewable energy will not stifle job creation and economic growth. Quite the contrary, in fact, which is yet another reason why we need to embrace the Paris accord.”
The resolution notes that climate change caused by rising global temperatures will likely: increase the frequency, severity, and duration of heat waves, creating a greater risk for heat-related illnesses and deaths, especially among the elderly, very young, disabled, and poor; increase the intensity of hurricanes creating stronger peak winds and increased rainfall; increase the risk of flooding within storm-affected areas and increase the risk of drought in areas located outside storm tracks; and continue to decrease the size of polar ice sheets and land-based glaciers, causing sea levels to rise and contribute to enhanced coastal erosion, coastal flooding, and the loss of coastal wetlands.
“Given the devastating effects of climate change that we’re already witnessing, it’s critical that this country maintain a commitment to the tenets of the Paris Accord,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Even if we have to lead the way, state by state and city by city, absent the President’s leadership, it’s our moral imperative in order to globally reduce carbon emissions, slow rising temperatures, and help countries deal with the effects of climate change,”
Copies of the resolution will now be filed with the Secretary of State and transmitted to the President and Vice-President of the United States, every member of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, Gov. Christie, and the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.