Cities are responsible for about 75 percent of the world’s total energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, while the vast majority of them are located on or near the coast, making cities especially vulnerable to the dangerous effects of climate change.
“The government has been trying to suppress science since Galileo, and it doesn’t work,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “The storms are bigger. The heat load is going up. Floods and drought are worse. As mayors, we are dealing with real stuff. The climate movement is real and strong in cities because we are feeling these effects. We can’t base our decision-making on ideology.”
“Before [election] night, it was important that mayors and cities took the lead on climate change, today it’s essential,” said Mark Watts, executive director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a global network of cities fighting climate change.
He said that Trump’s election — and the likely U.S. exodus from the Paris Climate Agreement — does not represent a “rerun” of the Kyoto climate protocol, another international treaty intended to curb carbon emissions which, in 2001, former President George W. Bush declined to implement.
“There is just too much international commitment and too many governments, businesses and mayors shifting to a low carbon economy,” he said. “The debate has largely ended on whether or not we need to take action. I don’t think there’s a chance of derailing Paris, or the faintest glimmer of stopping city mayors, because their commitment is real.”