ICLEI USA mayors and council members comprise the U.S. delegation to the COP21 events in Paris
The national government of the United States has walked away from international climate action by announcing its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement — ICLEI and its members have not.
Since the early 1990’s – long before President Trump took office, before green building portfolios and renewable energy standards were common place- there was growing concern among U.S. local leaders on crucial agendas: environmental protection, clean energy, and climate action. It was from these concerns that ICLEI was conceived, and it is with these concerns in mind that ICLEI and its network of local leaders have advocated in the international arena over the past 25 years.
With his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the first international climate agreement entered into by almost 200 nations, President Trump has once again taken an ideologically charged decision that will harm U.S. leadership as well as the important work being done by mayors and governors.
The USA needs to keep playing a strong role in the United Nations’ system, our only forum for planet-wide concerted actions for the improvement of our collective wellbeing. If this administration is intent on undermining such efforts, cities and regions will not stay idle.
Local and subnational leaders all over the country already are stepping up to fill the leadership void left by the Trump administration, by doing what they know best: listening to 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.
While impacts of climate change are always local, multilevel cooperation is essential to achieve the systemic changes necessary for sustainable and resilient urban development, in particular considering the scale of the resources to be mobilized for adaptation and even to rebuild communities. We are not giving up on the idea of cooperation and shared responsibility between levels of government in the U.S., but one thing is certain:
U.S. local governments will keep working for their citizens and the planet. They will keep making their voice heard on the global stage through city networks such as ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. They will keep engaging on global city-to-city cooperation for sustainability. They will keep reporting, monitoring and curbing their greenhouse gas emissions through global initiatives such as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and platforms such as the carbonn Climate Registry.
Our job, as a leading local government network, will be to support cities and regions all over the country to keep the momentum towards a low-carbon and resilient urban future for the U.S. and the world.
Our resources, commitment and access to international venues are, as always, at the service of local communities in the U.S. and globally. In fact, ICLEI is the only local government network that is accredited as observer at the three Rio Conventions, namely UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and UN Convention on Desertification (UNCCD). We actively participate in the negotiation and implementation of issues under these Conventions.
Specifically, at the UNFCCC level, ICLEI acts as the focal point of the local governments and municipal authorities constituency (LGMA). In November this year we will be, as always, in Bonn, Germany, for the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP23), also organizing the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. We invite U.S. local and regional leaders to join us and keep working for American climate leadership.
Contact us to learn how.
Statements from the ICLEI USA Network
“I have seen firsthand how other countries look to the United States as the most important leader in addressing climate change and the resulting impacts. It is my hope that cities and states will continue to lead this work. The decision of the Trump Administration to pull support of the Paris Agreement is a blow to future generations and the global efforts and commitments that have been made to save our planet.” —Mayor Frank Cownie, City of Des Moines, IA
“I never imagined that an American President would make himself the greatest threat to our survival, or leave China and Europe as the best hopes to save our planet. Trump’s abandonment of the Paris accords goes well beyond ignorance. It is willful, knowing sabotage of the future. It is arson for profit. It is immoral. But despite Trump, and despite Congressional Republicans’ fealty to their fossil fuel patrons, progress will continue at the local level.
“In metropolitan regions across America, innovation and smart policies are reducing carbon pollution and creating the way forward. Here, we are protecting farms and forests, converting to zero-emission battery buses, and using King County government’s energy purchasing power to create more clean energy capacity. We are not willing to give up on this nation or this planet, and we will continue to summon the courage and commitment to meet the most pressing challenge of our time.” —Dow Constantine, King County (WA) Executive
“Mayors of the United States will provide the leadership necessary to meet responsible pollution reduction goals to avoid a climate catastrophe. I was honored to be a a signatory to the 2005 Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, and am proud that my city of Gainesville, Florida met Kyoto-level carbon mitigation goals by 2013. Gainesville was recently listed as one of the top cities in Florida for job growth, defying claims that reducing carbon pollution is bad for our economic growth; the facts show the opposite to be true.
“In our state, 80 mayors signed on to address the carbon reduction challenge, the defining global issue of our time. Without state and assistance at the federal level, our job is more difficult, and the United States is abdicating our responsibility as a world leader, a position we’ve held for over a century. But local governments, and mayors, have the support of our citizens to innovate and take meaningful action, with or without federal leadership and responsibility. Having attended the Paris Climate Accord meetings with the ICLEI delegation, I observed first hand the depth of scientific and policy analysis and sheer hard work that went into forging an alliance of almost every nation on our fragile planet. The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord defies logic, but this short term action will not stop the long term progress of the private and non-profit sectors and state and local governments. ” — Pegeen Hanrahan, P.E., Mayor of Gainesville, Florida 2004-2010 (Term Limited) Principal and Owner, Community and Conservation Solutions, LLC