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Global Waste Groups Criticize U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Agreement

Several associations have blasted the move along with several governors and mayors from more than 80 U.S. cities.

Several waste and recycling groups have blasted President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) issued a biting statement entitled, “We Should Never Allow Science to be Defeated by Fake News”

In the statement, ISWA President Antonis Mavropoulos called the decision “an affront to science, our planet and to our future generations” and said it “will create huge profits for the fossil fuels industry and huge costs for the whole planet, especially for the poorest and more vulnerable countries and populations.”

He closed the statement saying, “We should never allow science to be defeated by fake news. We cannot afford a revenge of Middle Ages against Renaissance.”

In response to the decision New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee quickly announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris agreement.

In addition, as of this morning, mayors from 83 U.S. cities (and counting) had signed a statement committing to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”

 “The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change. New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

Several high-profile CEOs also resigned from presidential advisory councils in response to the withdrawal. Disney CEO Robert Iger and Tesla CEO Elon Musk both announced their decisions on Thursday. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt expressed that he was “disappointed” with the decision, but did not resign from those boards.

The ISWA statement also criticized the “divorce between U.S. climate policy and science.”

“In today’s complex, multipolar and interconnected world, science and scientific analysis remain the key-elements for proper policy making. ISWA, as a scientific organization, will always advocate and contribute to involve more and not less science in public policies and decision making,” Mavropoulos said in the statement. “The message for all of us is clear. ISWA will work harder to ensure that the Paris Accord, as a minimum measure to avoid the planet’s catastrophe, will stay on track.  We will work more intensively to close the world’s biggest dumpsites and ensure that this will result in substantial reduction of CO2 emissions. We will continue to demonstrate that integrated sustainable waste management is a key-contribution to climate change mitigation efforts, and a cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals. ISWA will insist to transform the waste sector, worldwide, to a net CO2 saver, as the evolution of the waste sector in Europe has already highlighted.”

Stamford, Conn.-based Keep America Beautiful also critiqued the move.

“Today’s announcement reinforces the immediacy and relevancy of the work done by Keep America Beautiful for nearly 65 years—along with the efforts of many others—to bring people together from all walks of life to create positive environmental, economic and social impact in communities across America and beyond,” Helen Lowman, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful said in statement. ““Today, we renew our commitment to work with and help bring together federal, state, county and municipal government leaders — joined by our other partners and millions of volunteers across the country — to advance our fight to End Littering, Improve Recycling and Beautify America’s Communities.”

According to Recycling & Waste World (RWW), Dr Colin Church, CEO of the U.K.-based Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), condemned the move as well.

“Action on some of the world’s most pressing environment issues – climate change, plastics in the ocean, and air quality to name but a few – requires collective and collaborative approaches,” Church told RWW. “It is therefore deeply disappointing to hear that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. We can take some comfort from the commitment from many US businesses and local and state governments to continue efforts to tackle climate change, and it is to be hoped that the US’ decision does not erode the determination of the other signatories to press ahead.”

When the Paris agreement was reached, Eric Lombardi wrote in a commentary for Waste360 about how the waste industry could factor into its implementation.

Lombardi wrote:

This is worth repeating: Reducing waste, recycling and composting are equally as important as other leading climate solutions.

Here’s why:

  1. Energy use and emissions related to raw material extraction (think giant trucks and bulldozers) are virtually eliminated with recycling and reuse;
  2. Energy use is greatly reduced in the manufacturing process when products are made from recycled materials rather than virgin materials;
  3. Not disrupting ecosystems in the hunt for virgin resources means more forests, trees and other vegetation are left intact, allowing them to absorb carbon dioxide;
  4. Stopping the landfilling of organic materials eliminates a huge source of methane into the atmosphere;
  5. Composting organic discards creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment that helps store carbon in the soils.
TAGS: Recycling
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