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US Cities, States, Businesses Back Climate Change Agreement


FILE - The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words "Paris Agreement is Done," to celebrate the Paris U.N. Climate Change agreement in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2016.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he represented “the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” when he announced the U.S. withdrawal from the historic climate agreement signed in the French capital.

But Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh, said he was “personally offended” by Trump’s remarks. Peduto said Trump’s speechwriter used Pittsburgh as a stereotype of a “dirty old town that relies on big coal and big steel to survive.” He said Trump’s reference “completely ignores the sacrifices that we made over 30 years ... to clean our air and clean our water.”

Peduto said on Twitter, “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.”

Peduto responded to Trump’s statement with an executive order recommitting the city government to its goals of cutting energy use by half and sourcing all its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

People hold banners as they protest next to the Brandenburg Gate, beside the U.S. embassy, against the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate change deal, in Berlin, Germany, June 2, 2017.
People hold banners as they protest next to the Brandenburg Gate, beside the U.S. embassy, against the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate change deal, in Berlin, Germany, June 2, 2017.

Cities, states, businesses step up

With the federal government stepping away from climate action, American state and city governments and the private sector are shouldering the effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

A growing list of mayors, governors and businesses are pledging to step up their actions so the United States will meet the commitments it agreed to in Paris in 2015. However, experts say it is unclear whether they actually can fill the gap left by the Trump administration.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, June 2, 2017.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, June 2, 2017.

Pruitt: Decision courageous

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Friday Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement was courageous and urged Americans not to apologize for the decision.

Pruitt said the president heard “many voices” about climate change and exercised “thoughtful deliberation” before deciding to withdraw from the landmark accord.

Pruitt did not respond directly to a question about whether Trump believes human-caused global warming is a hoax, as Trump claimed during his presidential campaign, instead emphasizing the agreement “did put us at an economic disadvantage.”

The environmental chief said Trump has indicated he will continue to study the issue and make one of two decisions in the future.

Watch: Trump to Pull US Out of Paris Climate Accord

“He’s going to either re-enter Paris, or engage in a discussion around a new deal with a commitment to putting America first,” he said.

Pruitt acknowledged that global warming is a real phenomenon and that human activity contributes to it in some manner. He added it is very challenging, however, to accurately measure the extent of human contribution to global warming.

No renegotiations

The European Union and China have recommitted to the 2015 Paris Climate deal, following the U.S. withdrawal announcement. A joint statement from the EU and China said that climate change and clean energy “will become a main pillar of their bilateral partnership.” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was in Brussels for an EU-China business summit.

The agreement was signed by 195 countries in 2015 to reduce the impact of climate change and keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.

China and the EU are two of the three biggest economies in the world with a large carbon footprint. If one of them followed the U.S. withdrawal, it would be unlikely the Paris accord would lead to large-scale reduction of emissions.

Watch: Trump's Policies Put US Off Track, Even Before Paris Pullout

Ansgar Kiene of Greenpeace says it is clear from the global response to Trump’s unilateral decision that leaders around the world are united in the fight against climate change. Kiene urged the leaders to translate their words in to actions.

When announcing the withdrawal Thursday, Trump stated that the U.S. potentially could re-enter negotiations, but that was dismissed by the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete, who said Friday that “the 29 articles of the Paris agreement are not to be renegotiated, they are to be implemented.”

Many world leaders have condemned the withdrawal.

French President Emmanuel Macron even invited scientists to relocate to France, saying in a speech televised in English, “make our planet great again,” a play on Trump’s campaign slogan to “make America great again.”

The United States joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries in the world that are not part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Marthe Van Der Wolf and Wayne Lee contributed to this report.

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    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

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