Mayors Continue To Push on Climate

C40 Talks

It’s been about three months since President Donald Trump announced he is withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. So what’s happened since?

As you might remember, hundreds of states, cities, universities, and businesses initially spoke out against Trump’s decision, saying that they would continue to reduce emissions with or without the federal government.

Last week a group of mayors (including Austin Mayor Steve Adler) gathered in New York City to follow up on that initiative by participating in C40 Talks, a climate change conference featuring leading climate mayors from around the world. All the mayors spoke about their disappointment at Trump’s decision, explaining that it would be much easier and quicker for them to act on climate with the federal government’s support. However, they doubled down on their commitment to work together to affect change, especially if the Trump administration is not interesting in assisting.

One way they’re doing that is with a new pilot program, aimed at turning the “Paris Agreement on climate change from aspiration into action.”The organization C40 Cities (a network of more than 90 cities who are serious about fighting climate change) will be helping to provide in-depth technical assistance and fostering knowledge transfers between eight pilot cities, in order to ensure their climate action plans will deliver the scale of emissions reductions required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The participating cities are Boston, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York City and Paris. The idea is that the program will eventually be rolled out to all 91 member cities (including Austin).

As CityLab reports, C40 researchers have estimated that this kind of coordinated effort between cities could get the US 38 percent of the way to achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. 

Another effort that cropped up after Trump made his announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is the US Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 14 US states (representing 36 percent of the US population). Since the alliance first formed, it has remained active and just recently released its first annual report, which tracks it progress.

As the report explains, its goal is to achieve its share of the Paris Climate Agreement (a 26-28 percent in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2025). Currently, alliance states are on track to meet this goal. (Although it should be noted that this still isn’t enough to meet all the goals of the Paris Agreement. More states will need to join in order to make that happen.)

Collectively, their emissions fell 15 percent between 2005 and 2015 (compared with 10 percent from non-alliance states)… and they’re not done yet.

“In the months ahead, we will continue to advance ambitious climate policy and launch new cross-state collaborative initiatives,” explained the report’s executive summary. “By working together, we accelerate clean energy deployment and emissions reductions within our states, and help transform markets nation-wide.”

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