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On June 1, the U.S. announced its decision to pull out of the landmark Paris Agreement, a plan to address climate change that involves now 195 countries setting and reporting on progress toward benchmarks to mitigate it. The decision to withdraw doesn’t technically take effect until November 2020 (one day after that year’s presidential election), but President Donald Trump’s move nevertheless drew widespread condemnation, with some cities in the U.S. taking up the climate accord regardless of top-level involvement. As of June 5, 12 U.S. governors, as well as Puerto Rico, signed on to the “US Climate Coalition,” a group with a mutual goal — the same as America pledged to the accord last November — to cut emissions by up to 28 percent of 2005’s levels in the next three years and meet or exceed the Clean Power Plan, despite actions by the federal government. Three hundred and sixty-two mayors representing the 10 largest American cities and 66 million Americans have vowed to continue with or up their commitment as well.
Read on for six of these U.S. destinations that have stuck with the agreement.
Los Angeles’ mayor, Eric Garcetti, was one of the founding mayors of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, the group of 362 municipal leaders known as “Climate Mayors” who have vowed to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support federal- and global-level policymaking.
“Climate change is a fact of life that people in Los Angeles and cities around the world live with every day. It is a grave threat to our health, our environment, and our economy–and it is not debatable or negotiable,” said Garcetti in a statement after Trump pulled out. “This is an urgent challenge, and it’s much bigger than one person. With the President pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, L.A. will lead by committing to the goals of the accord–and will work closely with cities across America and the world to do the same.”
On the other coast, New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio is another Climate Mayor who’s committed to upholding the Paris Agreement’s goals. As ABC pointed out, NYC is already experiencing climate change’s harsh effects, like warmer summers, intense storms, and rising sea levels. “President Trump can turn his back on the world but the world cannot ignore the very real threat of climate change,” he said. “This decision is an immoral assault on the public health, safety and security of everyone on this planet.”
Mayor Philip Levine, a member of the Mayors for 100 coalition with the Sierra Club, is among the U.S. mayors pushing for 100 percent clean and renewable energy in their communities. Levine’s city is subject to some of global warming’s worst effects to date, with sea levels threatening erosion and an economy driven heavily by tourist dollars spent on its beaches. The city has already thrown millions into its fight to mitigate climate change, including the installation of pumps to return increasing sea levels out into the ocean and adjusting the heights of their sidewalks, according to the New York Times.
“There is no question that the federal withdrawal of national leadership is a step backward,” Garcetti told the Times. “But before Paris and after the withdrawal from Paris, most of the local action has taken place at the mayoral level.”
One of 15 Climate Mayors in Colorado, Denver mayor Michael Hancock pledged before Trump pulled out that the city, known for its vibrant downtown life, proximity to natural beauty, and nearby skiing, would remain committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement. The city already has a climate action plan, and its mayors have a history of working to fight climate change’s effects.
“Denver has been a leader in combating climate change and in growing the clean energy economy,” Hancock said in a statement to the Denver Post. “We will not back down from our commitment to address this global threat and will continue the pledge to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement even in the absence of federal leadership.”
Long known as a liberal bastion in Texas, it’s no surprise that Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, has vowed to uphold the Paris Agreement. His stance on the issue echoes that of climate change summits he’s attended recently: that big cities are disproportionally responsible for emissions and power needs.
“Austin will not stop fighting climate change,” he told Curbed Austin on June 1. “Worldwide, cities will lead in achieving climate treaty goals because so much of what’s required happens at the local level. Regardless of what happens around us, we’re still Austin, Texas.”
A popular destination for its nearby ski resorts, Salt Lake City is committed to transitioning to 100-percent renewable energy by 2032 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent no later than 2050. Mayor Jackie Biskupski is leading the charge on behalf of her city and signed on as a Climate Mayor the day Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord.
“Salt Lake City is warming at a rate twice the global average, which is already impacting water supplies, worsening air quality, and threatening our $1 billion ski industry,” Mayor Biskupski told local KUTV. “This unprecedented action by President Trump affects each and every one of us. We must lead where the White House refuses to. Cities are paving the path toward a livable future, and I’m proud to count Salt Lake City in that cohort.”
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