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US State, City Leaders Vow Support for Paris Agreement

  • Daniel Schearf

The White House reconfirmed Monday the United States is pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord — a decision President Donald Trump announced in June.

"The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production," Trump said.

The White House on Monday reaffirmed its commitment to withdrawing from the Paris Climate agreement, saying it poses serious obstacles for the United States.

Gathering at U.N.

But at a gathering Monday of global city, state, business, and environment leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, there was a different view.

"From infrastructure, to finance to procurement, the opportunities are endless," said Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa. "This includes expanding transit to include electric buses as we have seen in the U.N. climate change host city of Bonn in Germany or making buildings more efficient by using sustainable material just as we are seeing in many cities in India."

The C40 Talks of global megacity leaders, hosted by the New York Times, voiced strong support for efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, despite the U.S. pulling out of the agreement.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo talks with reporters during a press conference in Lima, Peru, Sept. 10, 2017.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo talks with reporters during a press conference in Lima, Peru, Sept. 10, 2017.

Eight cities on their own

"Mankind is engaged in a race to prevent the oncoming disasters," said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. "Two weeks ago in Texas, a week ago in West Indies and Florida, hurricanes of an unprecedented magnitude are predicting similar tragedies in the future."

Hidalgo announced that eight cities — Boston, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, and Paris — would deliver their own climate action plans to further drive action against climate change.

"We can not longer afford to be cautious," added Higalgo. "The times to be courageous has come. Global cities' mayors share the same visions. They are at the forefront of social, democratic, and climate challenges."

Even without Washington's participation, at the state and city level, U.S. officials at the C40 Talks, said they're pressing ahead to curb emissions and promote clean energy.

FILE - In this June 13, 2017, file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses climate change at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Brown plans to convene a Global Climate Action Summit next year in his latest action to position the state as a leade
FILE - In this June 13, 2017, file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses climate change at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Brown plans to convene a Global Climate Action Summit next year in his latest action to position the state as a leade

'Very dead horse'

California Governor Jerry Brown said cities and states can still make a profound difference on climate change without Trump administration support. He said Trump is riding a "very dead horse" in denying climate change was a serious problem.

"But because our system of checks and balances has so many other power centers in business, in states, the influence of other countries, he will not be successful in the direction in which he's going," Brown added.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 375 American cities have subscribed to the Paris Agreement's reductions, despite the U.S. pulling out.

"Cities represented by both parties and by independents," de Blasio said. "So, the grass roots in this country are not only speaking, they're acting."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio talks to the press after voting in the Democratic primary, Sept. 12, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio talks to the press after voting in the Democratic primary, Sept. 12, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

Modern standards for all buildings

He vowed New York City would go even further with dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions through strict upgrades on city codes for their main source of emissions — energy-inefficient old buildings.

"The majority of our carbon emissions now come from our buildings in this city. And, in too many cases, buildings that have not been brought up to modern standards. And, it we don't intervene, that doesn't change fast enough," said de Blasio. "We've got approximately a million buildings in this city. But, the ones that are older and outdated do a really profound disservice to the rest of us and to the earth because they produce a huge amount of those emissions. In fact, it's under 15,000 buildings that create a quarter of the emissions in this city."

By upgrading old buildings through tough mandates and subsidized loans, the city's reduction in emissions by 2030, if achieved, would equal taking 900,000 cars off the road, added de Blasio.

Tina Trinh contributed to this report.

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