Pennsylvania state and city officials react to US withdrawal from Paris climate accord

Pennsylvania state and city officials react to US withdrawal from Paris climate accord

Author: Alanna Koll/Friday, June 2, 2017/Categories: News and Views, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia

Since President Donald Trump’s Thursday afternoon announcement that the United States will be withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, Pennsylvania officials have voiced their concerns as to what the decision could mean for the state and its cities.

Gov. Tom Wolf called on President Trump to remain in the agreement, which was signed by every country in the world besides Syria and Nicaragua.

“I urge President Trump not to abdicate the United States’ global leadership and seat at the table on climate change- a pressing issue for Pennsylvania’s economy, especially energy, agriculture and tourism, and our resident’s health,” said Gov. Wolf. “Pennsylvania is an energy leader and addressing emissions presents opportunities for Pennsylvania’s natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries to grow and create new jobs.”

He highlighted the Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment Update, prepared by Penn State University professor Dr. James Shortle, which warned of consequences of climate change, including worsening air quality, an increase in vector-borne diseases like West Nile and Lyme, severe storms, and increased precipitation which could bring on floods.

“Many of America’s largest corporations- from energy to technology- agree with environmental advocates, faith leaders and scientists that staying in the Paris agreement is the right choice for America,” said Gov. Wolf. “We cannot ignore the scientific evidence an economic significance of climate change and put our economy and population at risk.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the decision by President Trump has made America “weaker, and the world less safe.”

“President Trump’s decision is disastrous for our planet, for cities such as Pittsburgh, to the commitments the United States made to the rest of the world, and to our responsibility to save the globe for future generations,” said Mayor Peduto.

Peduto also expressed his disgust with the President mentioning Pittsburgh during his speech on pulling from the Paris agreement, stating “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

“I’m appalled that the President used my city to justify his unacceptable decision, as most other Pittsburghers are,” said Mayor Peduto. “I was one of the nation’s mayors who went to Paris to fight for the accords, and my city, which has finally bounced back from decades of industrial carnage, will do all it can to promote its own environmental standards.”

On Friday morning, Peduto issued an Executive Order to further promote climate control across the city.

The Order commits Pittsburgh to work with the National Climate Action Agenda and 81 other cities to undertake additional actions to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target; continue working on 2030 climate objectives, including achieving 100 percent Renewable Electricity Consumption for Municipal Operations and a citywide Zero Waste Initiative to divert 100 percent of materials from landfills.

The Order also calls for continuing commitment of reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by completing the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0; advancing Carbon Neutrality objectives by adopting energy efficiency standards for buildings; electrifying transportation systems with renewable energy sources, and protecting and regenerating the city’s natural environment through land conservation, park preservation and urban agriculture.

“Pittsburgh and other cities know that fighting climate change will not only save our planet, but save lives,” said Mayor Peduto. “Fighting the Paris accords is my duty, and that of mayors across the United States, who are standing together in defiance of President Trump’s reckless decision.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney agreed with Mayor Peduto, stating that the City of Philadelphia is committed to meeting the internationally-agreed upon carbon emissions reduction targets.

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement goes against the interests of Philadelphians,” said Mayor Kenney. “My administration is now committed to upholding at the local level the very same commitment made by the United States in the Paris climate agreement- to reduce carbon emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025.”

“This will ensure that we’re well on our way to meeting Philadelphia’s current long-term goal of reducing the city’s emissions 80 percent by 2050.”

In the absence of federal leadership, Philadelphia is also developing and implementing strategies to slow the causes of climate change, including continuing the city’s sustainability plan, Greenworks, to prepare all Philadelphians for climate change and reduce carbon pollution, identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and industry, and completing the city’s first-ever plan to dramatically reduce waste generation by the citywide Zero Waster and Litter Cabinet, among others.

“Philadelphia is already dealing with the consequences of climate change, such as hotter summers and heavier rain storms,” said Christine Knapp, Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia in a statement. “Because these changes disproportionately harm our most vulnerable residents, reducing carbon pollution is critical to achieving the Greenworks vision of a sustainable Philadelphia for all.” 

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