45 U.S. Mayors Commit to Paris Climate Goals as Montreal Boosts Its 2020 Target
More than 45 U.S. mayors, backed by colleagues from Canada, France, Mexico, and Tanzania, signed an agreement to uphold their country’s Paris agreement targets during a meeting earlier this week in Chicago.
“You cannot deny the science, and if you’re not going to do something, we’re going to do something,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
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“For a moment in time that requires action, we’re offered by the White House inaction,” added Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who hosted the gathering. So “cities are stepping into the void of leadership.”
Canadian signatories included Vancouver and Montreal, with newly-elected Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announcing plans to increase her city’s carbon reduction target from 25% to 35% by 2020, from a 1990 baseline.
Municipal action has long been one of the cornerstones of America’s pushback against the Trump White House attack on climate science and action. In June, the New York Times notes, “the United States Conference of Mayors called on the [Trump] administration to recommit to the Paris standards,” specifically the U.S. promise to reduce emissions 26 to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025.
“Another group, Climate Mayors, which claims 385 members, has rallied in defence of the Paris agreement. And a coalition of states, local governments, and businesses announced plans this summer to try to uphold America’s Paris commitments despite the federal withdrawal.”
Emanuel said the agreement reached in Chicago was more specific about signatories’ emission reduction goals, and set out a mechanism to track their progress.
Former President Barack Obama addressed the gathering in his hometown, calling the new agreement “a powerful symbol to the world” and telling participants they were part of “the new face of American leadership on climate change”.
Many of the larger cities in the agreement, including New York, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon, had already recommitted to the Paris targets, the Times notes. But the list of signatories also includes smaller communities like Missoula, MT, River Forest, IL, University City, MO, and Pittsboro, NC, population 4,200, where Mayor Cindy Perry acknowledged that about half of her constituents don’t believe the reality of climate change.
“I didn’t do it because there was a public demand,” she said. “I did it because I felt we needed to create that public demand.”