U.S. Cities and States Take Leadership In Wake of Climate Agreement Withdrawl

President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States will withdraw support from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, an international promise reached among 195 world leaders to reduce the impact of climate change and limit greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions to help reign in global warming. The only countries not to sign onto the original agreement were Nicaragua, Syria, and Russia.

The President’s decision was reportedly influenced by EPA director Scott Pruitt, a self-proclaimed “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” an avid climate change denier, and a fossil fuel supporter and collaborator with oil and gas companies. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had advocated for the continuation of U.S. support for the agreement and reportedly attempted to persuade Trump to change his mind. It is estimated that US withdrawal would add “up to 3 billion tons of extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year, raising the global temperature” dramatically by the end of the century.

Almost immediately after the decision was announced, nearly 70 mayors and 3 governors announced that they would uphold the vows to fight global climate change, including the Mayor of Pittsburgh, a city that was directly referenced in the president’s speech as one of the areas that would benefit from withdrawing from the Paris agreement.  Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responded in a Tweet, saying “Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh stands with the world & will follow Paris Agreement,” followed by a Tweet stating, “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.”

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he would lead a coalition of state and local lawmakers who were committed to combating global warming and holding a climate summit in the near future. California Governor Jerry Brown announced, “If the president is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

The United States is the world’s largest economy and the second-largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Evidence on global climate change as a result of human activity is overwhelming and has garnered wide-spread scientific consensus. 2016 saw some of the hottest months on record with average temperatures that had not been seen in 136 years. According to NASA, sea level rise, global temperature rise, the warming of our oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, declining Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification and declining snow cover are just a few among the many outcomes and signs indicting rapid environmental deterioration as a consequence of climate change.

Climate change also has a profound effect on the female population around the globe. In developing nations, women account for over 50% of the agricultural workforce and the affects of climate change would have a detrimental impact on their livelihoods. According to a 2009 Resource Guide on Gender and Climate Change, the UN Development Programme also determined that “poor women’s limited access to resources, restricted rights, limited mobility, and muted voices in shaping decisions make them highly vulnerable to climate change.”

According to the Associated Press, the EU and China will continue their commitment to the Paris accord. German chancellor Angela Merkel called the Trump administration’s participation in discussions about climate change “very unsatisfactory,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to continue his country’s efforts to reduce the negative effects of climate change regardless of the U.S. decision.

Media Resources: New York Times 5/31/17, 6/1/17; Associated Press 5/31/17; The Guardian 5/31/17; FMF 12/11/14, 12/14/15, 2/17/17; Climate Central 9/12/16; UN Development Programme 5/6/09; UN Women Watch

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