More than 50 US mayors just signed a charter to meet the Paris agreement goals without Trump

A protester attends a demonstration under the banner

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A protester attends a demonstration under the banner “Protect the climate – stop coal” two days before the start of the COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Fiji but held in Bonn, Germany November 4, 2017
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REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

  • US mayors have pledged to meet the US goals set in the Paris climate agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s pledge to pull out.
  • In the Chicago Climate Charter, mayors have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris agreement, as well as promote investment in clean energy, public transit, and other climate-friendly initiatives.
  • The initiative is led by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and supported by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former President Barack Obama.

US mayors are stepping up on the two-year anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, despite President Trump’s vow to pull the US out.

More than 50 mayors from across the US and Canada participated in the North American Climate Summit in Chicago earlier this month, signing an official agreement – the Chicago Climate Charter – in which they pledged to meet the emissions-reduction goals set out by the Paris agreement.

The agreement, which former President Barack Obama signed exactly two years ago, pushed member nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide and methane, to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Trump has claimed the agreement would harm US businesses and pledged to pull the US out – a process that will take several years. If the US does remove itself, it will be the only country in the world not signed on. Trump has left the door open to “renegotiate and rejoin” the agreement, though world leaders have said that is not an option.

The Chicago Climate Charter will pick up where Trump left off

The Chicago Climate Charter, led by Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emmanuel, outlined concrete plans that municipal governments will take to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

The charter lays out plans for all signatory cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the targets set out by the Paris agreement, as well as a mechanism for cities to track and report their progress.

Since the majority of the US population lives in cities, the mayors’ agreement recognizes that municipal governments can lead on the issue by promoting clean energy, investing in public transit, and working to reduce the carbon footprint of existing infrastructure.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Special envoy to the United Nations for climate change Michael Bloomberg as he arrives for a lunch at the Elysee Palace as part of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, December 12, 2017.

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French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Special envoy to the United Nations for climate change Michael Bloomberg as he arrives for a lunch at the Elysee Palace as part of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, December 12, 2017.
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REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The charter also outlines a process for mayors to develop policies and local laws that empower cities to take greater action on climate change. The document also pledges to include voices that have generally been left out of the climate change conversation, including people with disabilities and marginalized communities.

“The Chicago Climate Charter represents tens of million residents who are committed to confronting climate change head-on,” Emmanuel said in a press release. “Even as Washington fails to act, cities have the power and will to take decisive action to protect our planet and the health and safety of our residents.”

Obama briefly spoke at the event in support of the mayors’ initiative. And though he didn’t mention Trump by name, his intent was clear.

“Obviously, we’re in an unusual time when the United States is now the only nation on Earth that does not belong to the Paris Agreement,” Obama said at the event, per The Chicago Tribune. “And that’s a difficult position to defend. But the good news is that the Paris Agreement was never going to solve climate crisis on its own.”

The Chicago Climate Charter builds on a pledge that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg made last year – cities and businesses will lead on climate change, he said, with or without the federal government’s support.

The Global Covenant of Mayors,a group chaired by Bloomberg, was in part responsible for organizing the Chicago event.

Bloomberg is in Paris this week attending French President Emmanuel Macron’s One Planet Summit, a gathering of 50 world leaders and corporate executives to discuss solutions to the climate change problem.

Trump was not invited to the summit.