We in the Healthy People & Thriving Communities program at NRDC were in Paris to watch the COP21 agreement happen, and we were part of the effort by cities to help nations and regions lead on climate. Now, with President Trump’s decision to reverse our nation’s commitments to this historic agreement, we turn to cities and localities once again.
Mayors across the nation today are pledging to stand up on the international stage to keep the goals of the historic Paris climate agreement alive, marking an unusual shift in traditional boundaries perhaps but one that is increasingly called for in this time of urgent need on behalf of the planet and its people.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, representing the U.S. Conference of Mayors in a call with reporters today, put it this way: “The federal government has decided to go ‘America Only,’ but the mayors of America are here to say that in partnership with the private sector and communities across the country, it doesn’t mean that America as a nation will follow the lead of President Trump. As a matter of fact, we will do what we have to on our own to make sure that we protect jobs, protect our national security, and protect the environment—all of which we think fold hand in hand with each other.”
As I said in Paris in 2015, we were deluged with example after example of mayors breaking through bureaucracy and bypassing national or state roadblocks to make progress on reducing dangerous carbon pollution—refusing to sit back in anticipation of higher action.
Our cities and regions have adopted green building codes, massively cut energy waste from buildings, moved to clean energy sources, invested in bicycle, electric vehicle and transit infrastructure, and integrated the idea of resiliency into capital investment decisions. But most of all, they have made the effort to put people first in the climate equation—a major tenet of our work at NRDC.
President Trump’s decision does just the opposite—by putting outdated priorities and corporate interests above the public good, and that includes not only better health, clean water and air, and resiliency, but jobs and economic prosperity:
The decision by the president to withdraw from the historic Paris climate accord is deeply misguided. But it is one that will live in history as the administration’s own, not that of local leaders who will continue to work tirelessly to uphold the agreement’s principles. The nation’s cities and regions see the future as a place of opportunity for clean energy, energy and technology innovation, and infrastructure that works to make us resilient in the face of climate change effects. With them, we will speak out and continue to work on behalf of the Paris agreement.
Read more of NRDC's response to the White House announcement from our president, Rhea Suh, here.