Biden’s move to rejoin Paris Agreement is a victory for South Florida, expert says

MIAMI – Yoca Arditi-Rocha is among the Al Gore trained climate change presenters who were relieved on Wednesday when President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, an international effort to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are to blame for man-made global warming.

The agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change involved nearly 200 countries. It provided a framework of accountability. And although the U.S. is the world’s second-largest carbon emitter after China, former President Donald Trump was dismissive of its commitments.

“The science and the research tells us that the cost of climate inaction far outweighs the costs of reducing carbon pollution,” said Arditi-Rocha, the executive director of The CLEO Institute, a Miami-based non-profit organization that focuses on climate action through education and community engagement.

Biden named Former Secretary of State John Kerry as his special climate envoy. Republican Sen. Rick Scott criticized Biden’s decision saying it was meant to appease his liberal friends and did absolutely nothing to hold real polluters like China accountable. Arditi-Rocha is among the non-partisan experts who disagree and view it as a victory for South Florida.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 22 weather and climate disasters last year across the country cost about $95 billion in damages. The costliest 2020 events were Hurricane Laura at $19 billion and the Western wildfires at $16.5 billion.

“Most of us here in South Florida have witnessed increasing extreme weather events. We just came out of, last year, an unprecedented year not only because of a global pandemic but increasing warming and heat breaking records, a hurricane season that was off the charts,” Arditi-Rocha said.

Arditi-Rocha also said Florida is uniquely positioned to benefit from Biden’s decision to join the Paris Accord. Analysts estimate sea-level rise and flooding threaten an estimated $1 trillion in coastal real estate value, and Florida could lose more than $300 billion in property value by 2100.

Local authorities have been proactive. In Miami Beach, it’s an issue that is at the top of their agenda. And in Miami-Dade County, commissioners passed a symbolic resolution in support of the Paris Agreement in 2017.

Biden also decided to revoke a permit for Keystone XL, a long-contested pipeline to deliver Canadian crude to the U.S. Arditi-Rocha said inaction far outweighs the cost of investing in clean renewable technology.

“We finally get to take back our leadership in a clean energy economy,” Arditi-Rocha said. “It means that we join the whole world on a global effort to curb global rising temperatures. It means that our children and their children can have a livable future.”

More reaction on social media

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.