Sunday20 August 2017

RIBA president slams US withdrawal from Paris Agreement

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Giving up on tackling climate change “is to give up on prospects for future generations”, says Jane Duncan

RIBA has slammed US president Donald Trump’s decision to take the US out of the Paris climate change agreement.

President Jane Duncan said backing out of the Paris agreement represented “one of the most regressive decisions of our time”.

“To give up on tackling climate change is to give up on the prospects for future generations all around the world,” she said of the decision, announced last week

Duncan said stopping climate change could only be achieved as part of what she called “a global and committed community”.

She said: “The RIBA is determined that built environment professionals will continue to push toward agreed sustainable development goals regardless of the decision of the president of the United States of America, and we wholeheartedly back the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) commitment to do so.”

Last week the AIA said it would urge its members around the world to continue to help meet the accord’s aims.

AIA president Thomas Vonier said that far from helping US businesses, as claimed by Trump, withdrawing from the Paris agreement would hurt American interests.

“By adhering to our values as a profession that is concerned with human habitat and the health of our environment, we will help to mitigate the harm this decision will do to our economy and to America’s stature across the globe,” he added.



Readers' comments (17)

  • The Paris Agreement will cost a vast amount of money and achieve virtually nothing.

    In 1999 the costs of implementing the Kyoto protocol were estimated, by the environmental economist Professor William Nordhaus of Yale University, to be around $1.8 trillion.

    The resulting lowering of global temperatures after a century of full implementation has been widely agreed to be around one tenth of one degree centigrade – that’s a difference too tiny to be measured by most thermometers, or to be detected by the human body if it happened from minute to the next.

    This would be one of the worst cost/benefit outcomes in history, and the Paris Agreement is unlikely to do any better.

    The sensible way forward is not to waste eye-watering sums of money on futile warming 'mitigation' policies, but to concentrate our resources on continual adaptation to what is going to happen anyway, whether we like it or not.

    Maritz Vandenberg

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  • So that is everyone except May so far?!

    The first ever agreement to include all the main players has been scuppered by a toddler president. This is bad. The only other countries to refuse are Nicaragua and Syria.

    Maritz takes the same view as the president. He knows more than the rest of the worlds climate scientists. We'll be able to build a big wall around our country and protect ourselves from rising sea levels, everyone else can go to hell.

    He will probably moan about all the refugees who flee from from these countries who's coastlines are disappearing and who's agricultural land is drying up (it is already happening by the way).

    The point is Maritz, is that it is a start. A base to improve on. Getting China and America to both agree on something would have been a massive coup and the beginning of an improved agreement. That is why most of the world leaders, scientists and public are horrified. You know better though I suppose.

    You are actually arguing that it would cost too much to try and save the planet. How have we got to this point?

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  • craig wilson

    Maritz both you and President Trump fail to grasp that far from being an unaffordable pipedream as you like to imagine, the renewables sector is now the fastest and most profitable sector of the econnomy.

    In fact According to the report, published by the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps program, the industry now has at least 4 million jobs, up from 3.4 million in 2011 and estimates that solar and wind jobs are growing at a rate 12 times as fast as the rest of the US economy and suggests that 46% of large firms have hired additional workers to address issues of sustainability over the past two years.

    In fact it will be economically more detrimental for business not to take on energy saving & sustainability as an issue -dig your head in the sand if you wish, at least you may yet get to see Australia that way.

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  • Cthululu

    Cutting temperature rise by one tenth of one DegC will not 'save the planet'.

    If you have a more accurate estimate from 'climate change scientists' please do let us have it. That really would advance the debate.


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  • Maritz

    I clearly state that it is a start, the beginning of GLOBAL agreement on what to do, the general consensus being a deal is better than no deal (although maybe not these days...). I agree that it is not enough, but you seem to have come to the conclusion that because it isn't good enough, we'll exasperate the problem.

    As Craig quite rightly points out, renewable are economically viable and ecologically essential. The long term costs of relying on fossil fuels, not to mention the issues with relying on oil rich dictatorships, combined with the damage to the environment forcing the massive movements of people etc. all contribute towards a really awful future. What the hell though, at least we can grow grapes in England.

    Quite simply, Trump has been lobbied by his oil buddies and he is too unfathomably stupid and/or selfish to see the bigger picture. Looks like the rest of us will have to carry on till Trump is gone, and the sooner the better.

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  • Cthululu

    The cutting of the temperature rise by one tenth of one DegC is based on EVERY country applying Kyoto rules for a CENTURYeveryone will not 'save the planet'.

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  • Cthululu

    Oops! Let me start again ....

    The cut in global temperature rise of 1/10th of 1DegC is based on EVERY country in the world applying Kyoto rules for a HUNDRED years. If that’s only “a start”, how long do we have to keep doing it to achieve a cut of say 2DegC?

    As for the viability of wind and solar power, their contribution to global energy supply last year was 0.4% of the total – in rounded figures, zero. Again, how long do we have to wait?

    Meanwhile, while wasting time and money on useless ‘climate change mitigation’ policies, we are neglecting to do what we should be doing – adapting to what’s coming.


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  • Franz, we understand you are scared of change, but making things cleaner and more efficient is no bad thing. Renewables tech is also the biggest driver of growth for economies at the moment.

    Whether you agree with climate change or not, why do you not want to make the world a cleaner and better place for future generations?

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  • @Maritz

    I replied to your point, repeating it won't change anything.

    I had a longer response to this but my comment failed to post and I'm not bothering again. Abridged version:

    Not dealing with climate change/pollution and the plethora of challenges it creates is not a choice we can afford to make. Fobbing off responsibility on the basis that it costs too much is paradoxical to me. It'll cost us, how much depends on how long we leave it.

    You ask how long it will take, depends on people like you. Most of the world are on the same page, we've just got to bring Trump, and the fossil fuel giants with us.

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  • craig wilson


    Yet again your ignorance on climate change astounds me -The Paris agreement actually committed to holding the ongoing rise in global average temperature to “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels,” while “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.” and not the mythical one tenth of a degree you seem so wedded to.

    If you want statistics there are plenty out there -all you need too do is open your eyes and absorb information -for instance:

    The European Geo-sciences Union published a study in April 2016 that examined the impact of a 1.5 degree Celsius vs. a 2.0 C temperature increase by the end of the century, given what we know so far about how climate works. It found that the jump from 1.5 to 2 degrees—a third more of an increase—raises the impact by about that same fraction, very roughly, on most of the phenomena the study covered. Heat waves would last around a third longer, rain storms would be about a third more intense, the increase in sea level would be approximately that much higher and the percentage of tropical coral reefs at risk of severe degradation would be roughly that much greater.

    -bear in mind that this for the most part is considered a conservative projection but is cited in many academic journals -none of what is being asked in the Paris agreement is either unachievable or affordable -the main premise was that the most polluting nations pay the most of this cost -a bit like commercial refuse really in that the biggest polluters pay the most.

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