A whopping 7,453 cities worldwide have formed an alliance to reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to combat climate change. Following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, 300 American mayors have committed to enacting former President Barack Obama's carbon emission reduction goals.
On June 28, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy held its first meeting in Brussels to initiate their commitment to phasing out carbon emissions in favor of renewable energies.
"This is a historic and powerful response by the world's cities to address the climate challenge," the alliance stated on their official website. "It is the broadest global alliance committed to local climate leadership, building on the commitment of over 7,453 cities, representing 640,448,966 people worldwide and 9.39 percent of the global population.
The organization is chaired by European commissioner Maros Sefcovic and former Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. On June 26, Bloomberg announced that the group would invest $200 million over the course of three years in U.S. cities that demonstrate a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.
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"Few people realize it, but the U.S. is already halfway to our goal of 26 percent reduction in emissions by 2025 -- and Washington has had almost nothing to do with that progress," Bloomberg said. "Cities, states, businesses, and citizens, together with the market, were responsible for it. None of those groups are slowing down now -- and my foundation is working to help each group accelerate its progress."
Among attendees at the global meeting was Democratic Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta. The city leader declared that U.S. mayors have the opportunity to enact the emission targets set by the Obama administration.
"We have the ability to still achieve between 35 percent and 45 percent CO2 emission reductions without the involvement of the national government and it is why I chose to be here at this time to send a signal to 7,400 cities around the world that now should be a time of optimism, passion and action," Reed told The Guardian.
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On June 1, Trump announced from the White House Rose Garden that he was cancelling the U.S. commitment to the Paris accord, an international pact between 195 countries to reduce their carbon emissions output. The president asserted that the agreement placed an unacceptable burden on the American economy.
"We want fair treatment," Trump said, according to CNN. "We don't want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore."
Trump added that his administration "will start to renegotiate and we'll see if there's a better deal. If we can, great. If we can't, that's fine."
Sefcovic dismissed the suggestion that the Paris accord was up for negotiation.
"We work very closely with the states like California, like Washington, like New York and many others, and have a strong alliance... We are not going to renegotiate the Paris agreement," the European commissioner said. "Now is not the time to negotiate, it is time to implement."
Reed asserted that U.S. mayors were already being proactive in implementing the Obama climate policies.
"I came from Brussels from a meeting of the U.S. conference of mayors... and more than 300 mayors signed a letter reflecting our will to deliver the Paris accord commitments," Reed said.
On June 26, the U.S. Conference of Mayors met in Miami, Florida. The group passed a resolution urging the Trump administration to reconsider leaving the Paris climate accord. They also agreed to transition their cities to running only on renewable energy sources by 2035. Meanwhile, 300 members of the group Climate Mayors signed a pledge to fulfill the goals of the Paris accord.
"There is no question that the federal withdrawal of national leadership is a step backward," Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, the founding member of Climate Mayors, told The New York Times. "But before Paris and after the withdrawal from Paris, most of the local action has taken place at the mayoral level."
Republican Mayor Elizabeth Kautz of Burnsville, Minnesota, has also committed to her city eventually using only renewable energies.
"Everybody cares about the environment, and everybody wants clean air and clean water," Kautz said. "We don't really need the federal government. We are going to do what's right for our people."
Sources: CNN, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, The Guardian, The New York Times / Photo Credit: Georgia National Guard/Flickr, Center for American Progress/Flickr, Delta News Hub/Flickr