ICLEI Supports U.S. Local and State Governments in Turning the New Presidential Executive Order into a Call for a New Global Climate Leadership

Since President Trump took office, there has been growing concern among U.S. local leaders regarding the new administration’s stance on agendas critical to America’s future: namely environmental protection, clean energy, climate action.

With his March 28 Executive Order, which adds to last week’s budget proposal, President Trump has once again taken an ideologically charged approach that is out of step with the values of the majority of Americans and will harm the people it purports to help.

ICLEI USA urges the President and his administration to listen to the voice of elected officials all over the country.

Local governments – the form of government closest to the people – are actively building sustainable communities. Thousands of community greenhouse gas emissions inventories are contained in ICLEI USA’s ClearPath database – clearly demonstrating the drive toward low carbon economies.  

For years, and regardless of checkered national policies on the topic, American cities and towns have kept forging a path ahead, showing by good example what can be achieved when committed leaders, engaged communities and responsible businesses partner for the well-being of the many rather than the profit of the few.

Since the early 1990s, local governments in the U.S. have been using technical tools, capacity building, and networking opportunities to quantify GHG emissions, develop local climate action plans and prepare to climate hazards. They played a tremendous leadership role in mobilizing 1000+ signatories to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2005 when Kyoto protocol entered into force and have taken center stage in UNFCCC processes in the lead-up to the landmark Paris Agreement.

The World Wildlife Fund – ICLEI USA Measuring Up analysis demonstrates that by mid-century the climate targets of just 116 U.S. cities have the potential to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to shutting down 86 coal-fired power plants.  This is only a fraction of the potential of reducing carbon emissions in thousands of other cities across the country.

As U.S. climate leadership at the federal level falters, local leaders are, once again, stepping up to fill the void, by doing what they know best: listening to their citizens, bringing people and resources together to fix actual problems, keeping the community together and fostering a sense of shared responsibility towards our children and our planet.

Cities are going well beyond the Clean Power Plan now on review – they are moving toward 100% renewable energy, with Aspen, Colorado, having already achieved that goal.

Cities are made even stronger as they unite around the transition to low-carbon, highly resilient development guided by the Paris Agreement’s ultimate goal to limit global warming to 1.5 °C.

ICLEI USA commends the immediate and widespread reaction by local and state leaders across the U.S. who are showing that decades of groundwork on local sustainability have strengthened local governments’ ability to lead, uncompromisingly, on climate action and environment protection. This diverse and bold reaction provides further proof that U.S. communities and stakeholders will continue to be a part of the unstoppable and irreversible global action on climate and sustainability.

As the focal point of the local governments’ constituency at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ICLEI welcomes all local and state leaders to join us in raising our voices now and for the next months. As the 23rd UN Climate Change conference (COP23) starts taking shape in Bonn, Germany, ICLEI calls upon all national governments and all leaders from civil society and the business sector to join local leaders in doubling efforts on climate and environment protection and to build a new, inclusive climate leadership that will deliver on and go beyond the promises made in Paris at COP21.

Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, IA
Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General
Angie Fyfe, ICLEI USA Executive Director

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