President Donald Trump said he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris, as he withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement on Thursday. Pittsburgh, however, isn’t sticking with him – at least not on climate change. The mayor of that city, along with 29 other mayors, three state governors, over 80 university presidents, and over 100 businesses have banded together to commit to the Paris Accord without the president. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who’s helping lead the effort, said in an interview, “We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed.”
Trump’s move to yank America out of the Paris Agreement was criticized by many as abdicating American leadership on the global stage in the face of the climate change crisis. But this group of states, cities, businesses, and universities won’t leave the world to battle the crisis alone. The unnamed group is working with the United Nations to see if their submission can be added to the Paris deal.
Other mayors include those of Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City. Mars and Hewlett-Packard are among the businesses involved. And presidents or chancellors of universities like Wesleyan and Emory are getting on board as well. Bloomberg said businesses, states, and cities could reach the Obama administration’s Paris goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent down from 2005 levels by 2025.
California Governor Jerry Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formed the United States Climate Alliance immediately in the wake of Trump’s announcement, and called for other states to join in. In a statement, Brown said he doesn’t believe “fighting reality is a good strategy” and that states will step up if the president won’t lead.
Even former President Barack Obama broke the silence traditionally maintained by former presidents to help ease the country’s transition into new leadership. He released a statement published by The Washington Post, saying, “…even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”