LUBBOCK, Texas — On his first day in office, President Joe Biden fulfilled a longtime campaign promise – signing on to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Climate scientist and Texas Tech professor Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, along with 19th Congressional District Congressman Jodey Arrington spoke on Thursday about what this could mean for the people of West Texas.
“The cost to our country, to our economy to jobs, and to regions like West Texas, would be tremendous,” said Congressman Arrington. “They’re going to get higher energy prices. We’re going to lose jobs in West Texas and rural communities like West Texas, and it’s going to compromise our energy independence, which is a pillar of our nation’s security.”
However, scientists like Dr. Hayhoe explained how the potential changes that could come from this won’t be as damaging as some might think.
“There’s a lot of misunderstandings with the agreement,” she said. “First of all, nobody’s forcing the U.S. to do anything, but the U.S. promised what it would do.”
As a part of the accord, President Joe Biden promised to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Having been in Paris when the agreement was signed, Dr. Hayhoe said that it is about time the U.S. follows through.
“If the United States meets its Paris Agreement targets, it will start saving money in terms of impacts avoided within a decade or so,” said Dr. Hayhoe. “And that’s not even counting all the benefits of the jobs.”
With a growing renewable energy industry in West Texas, Dr. Hayhoe said that there’s already a lot of research being flooded into solutions that could help our farmers.
“Farmers have the potential to play a key role in climate solutions,” said Dr. Hayhoe. “And some of the research that we are doing at Texas Tech highlights how smart farming techniques can put carbon back into the soil where we want it.”
She said that this research is important because without making efforts to curb climate change, the agriculture industry could be devastated by the long-term impacts of climate change — like droughts.
“There’s a lot of benefits that could potentially accrue to West Texas, both in terms of wind and solar energy, as well as smart farming,” said Dr. Hayhoe.
Although some disagree on how exactly to do so, reducing carbon emissions will take innovation on all sides.
“I believe that we should steward our environment, I want not only a safer, stronger and freer nation. I want cleaner water and cleaner air for our children,” said Congressman Arrington. “I think that is incumbent upon all leaders of this great nation. But we have seen America lead through innovation, not regulation.”