Governors, mayors, and lawmakers across the United States are pledging to adhere to an international accord on carbon emission reductions — federal support or not — in a sort of Paris blowback.
The Democratic governors of California, New York state, and Washington state announced that they were forming the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states that will stick to the Paris climate agreement even though President Trump has said the U.S. will pull out.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Wolf had already joined with 11 other Democratic governors to write to Trump in May asking that the U.S. not pull out of the Paris pact. Republican Govs. Philip Scott of Vermont and Charles Baker of Massachusetts similarly wrote to the administration.
Though Wolf held off saying he would join any formal alliance, his office said Friday it was creating “an informal working group.” The goal is to identify resources available to address climate change while expanding clean energy options, including natural gas and renewables. The group would work with other states, businesses, universities, and nonprofits.
Gov. Christie campaigned against the Paris accord and supported Trump’s withdrawal. The Republican’s final term is up this year. Phil Murphy, the Democratic front-runner in New Jersey, said Friday that if elected, he would join the alliance.
Locally, Philadelphia officials are moving ahead, saying the city is already feeling the heat – literally – from climate change.
Mayor Kenney is part of the Climate Mayors group. It includes 83 mayors, including those from some of the most populous cities, such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. The mayors said they will adhere to the Paris pact, which calls for greenhouse gas reductions starting in 2020.
Another yet-unnamed group of mayors, governors, universities, and businesses intends to submit their own plan to the United Nations, which oversaw the Framework Convention on Climate Change that yielded the Paris agreement.
Kenney was in Iceland Friday as part of Icelandair’s maiden flight from Philadelphia to Reykjavik and could not be reached for comment.
But Sarah Wu, deputy director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, said Philadelphia was committed to “meeting the requirements under the Paris accord.”
Under the Obama administration, the U.S. pledged to the Paris goal of keeping global temperatures from rising less than 2 degrees centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). To do that, the administration sought to reduce U.S. carbon emissions between 26 percent and 28 percent by 2025.
“We’re saying that, even if they’re not doing it at the federal level, we’re still doing it at a local level,” Wu said. “True, it’s not the same as having the entire country meeting the goals. But it’s showing that a large swatch of the country is committed.”
According to Wu, data show “Philadelphia is getting hotter, with more extreme heat and longer heat waves.” She said the city is also seeing heavier precipitation through increased storm bursts. It also expects change as sea level rise pushes further upstream of the Delaware River.
Among city initiatives officials say can help meet the goals:
- A sustainability plan known as Greenworks.
- Building Energy Benchmark Ordinance that measures energy use of buildings.
- Solar rooftop program for residents under the Philadelphia Energy Authority.
- Energy master plan to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and industry.
- A plan this year to work on more efficient transportation to reduce carbon emissions.
However, Trump has plenty of support, especially in the Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and among Republican governors in states that depend on oil and coal.
So any chance of achieving Paris accord goals will have to come from only a portion of the U.S.