Republican Karen Handel praised President Donald Trump’s move to abandon the 2015 Paris climate agreement, saying the U.S.’ withdrawal “presents an opportunity to do the right thing in the right way.”
The former secretary of state, who faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in the June 20 runoff to represent Georgia’s 6th District in the U.S. House, put herself squarely behind her would-be Georgia GOP colleagues who backed Trump’s.
“We need a fair agreement that doesn’t start with the assumption that American jobs should be sacrificed to the developing world in order to address the impacts of climate change,” Handel said, echoing GOP lawmakers' calls for the Senate to ratify any future agreement.
Her response to Thursday's announcement could not be more different from Ossoff's. The Democrat warned that "history will condemn us" for leaving the accord.
“I agree with our military, our intelligence community, and peer-reviewed science that climate change is a major threat to our prosperity and our security, and if we walk away from this historic agreement now, history will condemn us,” said Ossoff, who added that the “economic potential of clean energy technology” could help create new jobs.
The Paris agreement is backed by every country but Syria and Nicaragua and urges industrialized and developing countries alike to lower emissions of global warming-causing CO2 emissions. Supporters have lauded it as a landmark and a critical first step in slowing climate change, but U.S. opponents say it would put harsh limits on the country's energy sector while allowing other polluters in the developing world to play by a different set of rules.
“When other countries are not willing or able to fully adhere to the terms and meet these targets it ultimately puts American companies and workers at a tremendous disadvantage,” said U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga.
Trump's move has divided Georgia's politicians along sharply partisan lines. Democrats trashed the announcement, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed vowed the city would push on to achieve Paris' main tenets on its own.
"The City of Atlanta will intensify our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, work to cool the planet by two degrees, ramp up clean energy solutions and seek every opportunity to assert our leadership on this urgent issue," said Reed.