Climate scientists to Gov. Abbott: It’s not “impossible” to see that global warming is hurting Texas

Media Contacts
Emma Pabst

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN – Texas climate scientists delivered a letter to Gov. Abbott today in response to his comments that it is “impossible” for him to say whether man-made climate change is contributing to extreme weather. The letter, signed by more than two dozen climate scientists and experts from Texas universities, warned that climate change will have dangerous results for Texas and offers a briefing to the Governor on climate science.

“It’s time for Gov. Abbott to put politics aside, face the facts, and get to work fighting climate change,” said Emma Pabst, Clean Energy Associate for Environment Texas. “We urge Gov. Abbott to take these scientists up on their offer, hear them out, and then take steps to reduce Texas carbon emissions.”

Last month, a report prepared for the Governor on Hurricane Harvey made clear that Texas will face significant damage as sea levels rise and future storms become more intense. When reporters asked the Governor whether human-made climate change has played a role in Texas’ weather disasters, he responded “I’m not a scientist. Impossible for me to answer that question.”

“Global temperatures are measurably rising, climate and sea level change are observably happening, and it is clear that humans are primarily responsible,” said Professor Ian Dalziel of the Jackson School of Geosciences at UT Austin. “Without prompt action to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, Texas and Texans will undoubtedly suffer significantly in several respects.”

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center released a new report, Climate Solutions from Day One: 12 Ways Governors Can Lead on Climate Now, today outlining steps the Governor could take administratively,  including setting ambitious goals for emissions reductions, clean renewable energy and electric vehicles for both the state as a whole and state government operations and directing TxDOT to focus additional resources on low-emission transportation modes like walking, biking and public transit.

Most Texans already know this and support climate action. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, 56% of Texans want the Governor to do more to address global warming.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Texas has the most greenhouse gas emissions in the nation. Between 2000 and 2009, Texas cut carbon emissions by 106 million metric tons or 16%. But then emissions started climbing again and as of 2016, Texas pumped out 653 million metric tons of carbon pollution – more than the state did in 2000. However, Texas also leads the nation in wind energy and has enormous potential for renewable energy, energy efficiency and other carbon reduction strategies.