Climate Change News

State and Local Officials Push for Continued Climate Action

Governors, mayors, citizen groups, and others are moving ahead with regional and smaller-scale efforts to counteract climate change in the wake of the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

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Despite the Trump administration’s announcement earlier this month that it intends to withdraw the United States from the 2015 global climate accord, a groundswell of activity is taking place on local, state, regional, and international stages to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to urge the administration to change its decision.

On Monday, mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting adopted a resolution supporting a “cities-driven plan to reverse climate change.”

The resolution urges the administration and Congress “to support the fight against climate change by fully committing themselves to [the] Paris Climate Accord” and other measures.

Cities cannot formally join the Paris accord, but the resolution states that “it is increasingly important for Mayors to commit to doing their part on climate action via aggressive policies and programs that reduce our environmental footprint while promoting a 21st century economy.”

Cities Move Forward with Climate Plans

The mayors’ resolution, which notes that cities comprise 91% of the gross domestic product of the United States, is one of several recent climate change–related declarations by mayors.

On the same day that the mayors’ conference adopted its resolution, a separate statement from the “C40” group of mayors called on world leaders at July’s G20 summit to maintain their commitments to fighting climate change.

In its statement, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which includes mayors of more than 90 cities across the United States and throughout the world, wrote, “In view of the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the determination of the 19 other leaders—at the next G20 summit—to safeguard the future of the planet has never been so crucial.”

Also, more than 330 U.S. “climate mayors” in the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda network earlier this month committed to honoring and upholding the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

Broadscale Efforts

Mayors aren’t the only ones keeping the pressure on for climate action.  Among other efforts, more than 1000 mayors; governors; and leaders in education, business, and finance earlier this month signed an open letter to the international community stating that they are “still in” the effort to curb climate change despite “the absence of leadership from Washington.”

The governors of California, New York, Washington, and other states formed the U.S. Climate Alliance earlier this month to serve as a forum to support climate programs. In New York City, a bridge and the antenna mast atop the One World Trade Center building were illuminated with green light to signify the state-level climate action.

Internationally, many countries continue to reaffirm their commitment to the climate accord, following Trump’s decision. Last week, for instance, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Paris accord.

Scientists and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) also have been vocal on the issue, with marches for science and the climate and with other measures. Earlier this month, for instance, the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics urged the United States to “continue to meet the aspirations of the Paris Agreement through the efforts of the states, cities, industries and citizens.”

The administration’s stance against the Paris accord and its efforts to weaken federal agency actions related to climate change also are spurring growth in support for NGOs pushing for climate action.

For example, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which focuses on national policies to address climate change, has grown in membership since November by 40% to 70,000, according to the organization’s executive director Mark Reynolds. About 1300 people gathered at the group’s annual conference in Washington, D. C., earlier this month and then fanned out to visit about 500 congressional offices to urge legislative support for efficient and effective carbon pricing.

With the November presidential election prompting some people to become more involved with climate issues, “Trump has been the gift that keeps giving,” Reynolds told Eos.

—Randy Showstack (@RandyShowstack), Staff Writer

Citation: Showstack, R. (2017), State and local officials push for continued climate action, Eos, 98, https://doi.org/10.1029/2017EO076997. Published on 28 June 2017.
Text © 2017. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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