Former New York City major, Michael Bloomberg, is coordinating an effort among 30 mayors, three governors, 80 university presidents and over 100 businesses to independently align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of curbing US carbon emissions, the New York Times reported Friday. Additionally, 83 mayors have signed the Climate Mayors Agreement, similarly with the goal of independently reducing carbon emissions.
Yesterday, President Trump announced the US is joining Syria and Nicaragua in abdicating from the landmark agreement, ratified by former President Obama in 2016 and signed by 195 nations. Trump peddled dozens of wildly disproved falsehoods in justifying exiting the agreement, which prompted swift backlash from the international community; diplomats; Trump’s own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson; and major US companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Intel.
US state and local leaders have also made it clear they’re fighting the decision and will continue to fight climate change, with or without federal support. The Climate Mayors Agreement is a commitment between now 80+ cities including Austin, Palo Alto and San Francisco to ignore Trump’s March executive order that weakened the Clean Power Plan, which would have compelled states to set power plant emissions reductions goals. They want to keep those goals intact. Several of these same cities have jointly signed onto former Mayor Bloomberg’s new plan, which is a coalition of cities, states and companies who plan on coordinating with the UN directly to come up with carbon emissions targets.
For now, it’s unclear how that coordination will actually work. The Paris Agreement was designed to accommodate entire nations, not individual cities. The point was for countries to have individual targets, then draw up their own policy measures in order to meet them. This new effort would seemingly involve a wide range of localities within a country all coordinating with an international body, which is brand new diplomatic territory.
To remain aligned with the Paris Agreement, cities will be focusing on expanding renewable energy sources for utilities, launching infrastructure projects that are more energy efficient, and offering subsidies for customers buying electric cars and solar panels.
The US is roughly halfway to its initial Paris Agreement goal of reducing carbon emissions by about 25 per cent by 2025, and was set to meet its goal before Trump’s rapid-fire deregulations. While researchers projected the US will fail its climate goal, former Mayor Bloomberg said in a letter to the UN that he believes his coalition will help the US achieve its reduction target.
Moreover, the new coalition signifies that while America’s leadership may have abdicated its responsibility to fight climate change, its people are not.