Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has signed on with 337 other U.S.mayors to back goals of the Paris accord on global emissions reduction and climate change, a spokeswoman for the mayor said. The initiative was organized through the U.S. Conference of Mayors and ratified at the group’s meeting in Miami Beach June 1.
“Anchorage maintains our commitment and responsibility to adapt to and mitigate climate change,” Berkowitz said in a statement. “Alaskans know how critical good stewardship is for our economy, our climate, and our security.”
“The Municipality of Anchorage stands with business leaders and other mayors from across the country in protecting our future,” Berkowitz said.
The Anchorage’s mayor’s stance is in contrast with that of Gov. Bill Walker, who has not said he would back the goals of the Paris agreement although he is concerned with climate change impacts in Alaska.
Walker is courting President Donald Trump’s support for major infrastructure projects in Alaska, particularly federal funding for a natural gas pipeline, a project Walker strongly supports. President Donald Trump has announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change goals.
Trump’s action is not widely supported in the U.S., however. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu Landrieu, president of the U.S. mayor’s conference, said “There’s near unanimity in this conference that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it.”
“There may be a little bit of a disagreement about how actually to deal with it, but if the federal government refuses to act or is just paralyzed, the cities
themselves, through their mayors, are going to create a new national policy
by the accumulation of our individual efforts.”
With the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris accords, national policy on climate change will emerge from U.S. cities working to reduce emissions and become more resilient to rising sea levels, Landrieu said.
The conference supported the Paris agreement, and according to preliminary
results released Saturday morning from an ongoing nationwide survey, the
vast majority of U.S. mayors want to work together and with the private
sector to respond to climate change, Landrieu said.
A May survey of local sustainability efforts, conducted by the conference
and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, initially only included 80
mayors who hold leadership positions within the conference, but was extended
to all conference members and the mayors of about 1,400 cities with
populations of 30,000 or more after President Donald Trump pulled the
U.S. out of the Paris agreement.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed addressed a global meeting of mayors in Brussels and said he was sending a signal of “optimism, passion and action” on fighting climate change to mayors worldwide despite the pullout Trump announced this month. “President Trump’s disappointing decision to withdraw from the agreement will actually have the opposite effect in terms of execution,” Reed told the meeting, which had mayors from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America.
“What we did not have really was the level of cooperation, passion and intensity until we saw our president’s decision to withdraw,” Reed said.
Reed said he had attended a meeting in Miami, where more than 300 U.S> mayors from both the Democratic and Republican parties pledged to honor the Paris, showed this “is not a partisan issue,” Reed said.
“I won’t go as far as to say we can reach the exact same goals as we could have with national leadership,” th Atlanta mayor said, but cities can do enough to keep the ball rolling. He cited experts who argue that cities can achieve 35 percent to 45 percent of the targeted emission cuts without the involvement of national governments.
The Paris agreement calls for keeping average global warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, and at 1.5 Celsius if possible.
Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver, B.C. suggested that Trump look north to see how voters in Canadian cities had changed the political map by having Justin Trudeau, a champion of the Paris pact, replace his opponent Stephen Harper for the premiership in 2015. “The Trump administration had better watch out for U.S. cities,” Robertson said. “They’re on the rise and I think will prevail in the end at turning the tide and making sure the U.S .is a climate leader,” he told the Brussels meeting.
Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president for energy who co-chaired Tuesday’s meeting of mayors, said momentum from cities and other players was “stronger than ever before” despite Trump’s decision.
Former New York mayor and billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg, who was to join world mayors in Brussels later Tuesday, has also announced a $200 million plan aiming to back innovative policies in American cities.
Bloomberg will join a board meeting of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which represents 7,451 cities worldwide and nearly 700 million people, or nine percent of the global population.
Sefcovic said he expected that mayors from China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, would soon be “very strongly represented” in the covenant, though there are none from mainland China currently.
The C40 club of mayors of top cities on Monday called on G20 leaders to strongly support the Paris pact — even though they are now only 19 after Trump’s pullout — when they meet soon in Hamburg, Germany.