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Industry Leaders Respond to LC/DBM
on Paris Pullout

Outlooks: Some Good, Some Not so Good


The green industry weighs in on the United States' withdrawal from the Paris accord.

Upon hearing the news that President Trump made the decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, Landscape Contractor, Design/Build/Maintain contacted some of the principals of the country's top landscape contracting companies and organizations for their opinions. Knowing that the short notice would limit the amount of responses, the magazine still got some valuable insights.

Phil Key, the president of Ruppert Landscape, while acknowledging more information is needed, feels that the move is not necessarily a good one since the innovative changes the accord can create "does actually spur the economy."

As for the impact on his economy, he points out that sustainable practices like the solar field at their LEED certified corporate headquarters, is an investment in just being a responsible corporate citizen. He acknowledges, however, that if given the chance, many companies may look for a competitive advantage offered by less strict standards.

"It gets tricky when you are put in a situation where you have to make decisions relative to your competition on productivity and costs, and that's where companies that want to do the right thing can be challenged," says Key.

On the upside, he feels that the increased awareness in this country of the value of sustainable practices will continue.

Key relates, "The generation behind us is being brought up to be way more conscientious. I think that positive involvement is learned from mistakes and understanding the importance of sustainability. I don't think that changes anytime soon."

And he believes that awareness may actually grow from all the talk surrounding President Trump's move.

Amy Snyder, the company's director of public relations, feels that certain areas of the country may see an economic uptick in the short-term but long-term benefits are less certain. And she adds, "I think you are just going to see more of a focus in terms of states and private companies being more environmentally responsible and that helps everyone continue to move forward."

"What I'm not hearing in any sense is that the sustainability and the progress we made isn't important and I think the way we do things certainly doesn't change," says Key. "And from our customer's perspective, most of their requests around green practices aren't coming from the accord. They don't have an emissions goal to hit. But there still seems to be a pretty good level of interest in sustainable practices."

Ron Claassen, a Branch Manager for BrightView Landscape Development, also expressed some uncertainty about the decision.

"I have some reservations both ways but I'm not sure it was a good thing for our industry," he states. "I honestly don't know how active the participants in the accord have been and to what standard they are going to be held, or what they have been held to in the past."

He is in agreement that an overall environmental mindset is very important, and in the long run, that could suffer.

"The immediate impact is probably not going to be a great one," says Claassen, but adds that awareness of environmental issues in the future will not be as high due to us leaving the Paris climate pact, and that will create the most damage.

Ralph Egues, Jr., the executive director of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance, acknowledged that his organization had not had time to develop an official stance on the administration's decision.

However, in general he has seen that "from working on many (NHLA-related) sustainability issues, a lot of what gets promoted as good for the environment isn't necessarily so, or the sacrifice you are making for the possible gains just doesn't add up to good value. I can't speak to the Paris climate agreement in particular but a lot of times you can achieve more good with a lot less pain to the system economically or from a regulatory standpoint."

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August 17, 2019, 10:47 am PDT

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