When President Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord last week, he said that we as elected “to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris”. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto immediately rebuked the president in a Tweetstorm. “As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement, for our people, our economy & future”. Mayor Peduto, it turns out, is not alone.
As of June 3, 187 mayors have pledged to ignore President Trump’s climate changing policies and will adopt the Paris Climate Accord for their cities. Many Florida mayors have joined this pledge including Mayors Tomas Regaldo of Miami, Phillip Levine of Miami Beach, Josh Levy of Hollywood, Jack Seiler of Ft. Lauderdale, Jeri Muoio of West Palm Beach, Buddy Dwyer of Orlando, Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburgh and Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee. The group, the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda or the “Climate Mayors”, had previously announced that they would not enforce any executive order which would roll back Obama administration policies regulating energy production or reducing emissions. The new statement adopts the Paris Accord and pushes for strong climate action.
In addition to the Climate Mayors, a group of 30 mayors, 3 governors, 80 university presidents and 100 business leaders intends to submit a plan to the United Nations, pledging to meet US green house gas emission targets in the Paris Accord, despite the US withdrawal. Michael Bloomberg is leading the efforts of this initiative. Mayor Bloomberg says that this plan will assure that everything that the US committed to in the Accord will be met and, in many cases, exceeded.
For the last 2 years, California Governor Jerry Brown has been negotiating with state and local governments to sign a “sub-national climate pact” to agree to even higher standards than the Paris Agreement. Following last week’s announcement, Governor Brown said “California will resist”. Along with the governors of New York and Washington, Governor Brown is seeking to establish a coalition of states committed to upholding the Paris Accord. Meanwhile, the California Legislature is working to go further. The California Senate recently passed a bill which would require state utility companies to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045.
It is unfortunate that President Trump chose to make this monumental announcement at the start of the hurricane season. It is a double whammy for those of us in South Florida as we begin to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. Of course, those who survived Andrew, Wilma, Katrina and other hurricanes, as well as Sandy and the countless floods and tornadoes of the last 25 years should be particularly concerned. I have written about sea-level rise before (see HERE, HERE and HERE). Local governments are making strong efforts to combat the effects of climate change. The US withdrawal from the Paris Accord is unifying state and local leaders to take leading roles in combatting the causes of climate change. This is might be the only positive result of the president’s decision. But hopefully, it will encourage the president to reverse course. The US should be leading the battle against climate change.