Yesterday afternoon, shortly after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the U.S. Green Building Council issued a statement from President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam, saying that the organization was "deeply disappointed to learn of the administration’s decision."
"The United States government has an opportunity to lead on this," Ramanujam wrote, speaking to the UN accord’s goals of mitigating carbon emission worldwide, "yet it has chosen to walk away."
Nevertheless, the statement struck an optimistic tone, noting that "the surge of climate commitments and actions by the private sector, NGO’s, governments, cities and states, will only serve to strengthen the green building movement and keep pushing us forward."
The organization assured that, despite this news, "our efforts continue unabated and with commitment and hope that's stronger than ever."
As many know, the Paris Agreement, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), establishes voluntary actions to address greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change mitigation and adaptation—and 194 countries around the world are signatories. The United States government has an opportunity to lead on this, and in so doing, to strengthen global partnerships, yet it has chosen to walk away. We are deeply disappointed to learn of the administration’s decision to withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement today.
We are facing an important crossroads, and America must keep building. We need to keep building bridges and bonds and breaking barriers in the push for a sustainable future for all. Although the pullout of the U.S. government from the Paris Agreement will be felt across the world, the surge of climate commitments and actions by the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, governments, cities and states will only serve to strengthen the green building movement and keep pushing us forward.
For 24 years, USGBC has led the green building movement with a strong vision—that buildings, communities and cities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within this generation. Today, our efforts continue unabated and with commitment and hope that's stronger than ever.
Yes, hope. We are hopeful for the future because we know that our movement is a community of 13 million strong, and it's growing. We are encouraged by the continued commitment of this community to build a sustainable future for all.
U.S. companies, including many USGBC members, are already working to address business risks from climate change and to adapt their businesses to domestic and global opportunities created around climate-mitigation needs. Businesses and local governments are wisely seeking and investing in low-carbon fuels and technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the global economy. And with platforms like Arc, more and more companies and government entities are tracking their carbon emissions, committing to reduction targets and taking action.
Right now, "business as usual" is no longer an option. With the work of our organization, our members, our volunteers and many others, we have reached the point where the transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable, but making the transition remains urgent.
All around us, we see that new leaders who are ready to rise, inspired by the promise of a brighter future for our children and for generations to come. They are the big corporations and small business owners, educators and innovators, scientists and activists, nonprofit employees and policymakers, advocates and more who are working every day to change our world, definitively, for the better. To these leaders, green building is the key solution to pushing our built environment to be supportive and restorative of all life.
At USGBC, we implore you to stay strong and focused and to keep building. And remember: we stand with you, and we are all in. Let’s continue to LEED on.