US mayors and governors defy Trump, will stick to Paris agreement anyway

US mayors and governors defy Trump, will stick to Paris agreement anyway
As directed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in response to President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, One World Trade Center is illuminated with green light, June 1, 2017 in New York City.
PHOTO: AFP

Cities and states across the US will keep fighting climate change, despite President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the country from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Local leaders from across the country say they're not backing down from America's commitments under the historic climate accord.

In recent days governors and nearly 200 mayors - from small towns to megacities - have vowed to collectively reduce US greenhouse gas emissions and adopt clean energy technologies.

Their swift response offers more than just a dose of cheerful optimism.

It signals that America's hard-fought progress on climate issues won't be so easily dismantled just because climate deniers and fossil fuel industry allies hold the top seats in the US government, observers said.

"The fact of the matter is, Americans don't need Washington to meet our Paris commitment, and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it," Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and a special UN envoy for cities and climate, said in a recent statement from Paris.

Michael Bloomberg, left, with France's President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. Bloomberg told French leaders the U.S. remains committed to the Paris treaty. PHOTO: Flickr/ Michael Bloomberg

At the White House last week, Trump announced he would pull the US from the agreement and seek to negotiate a "deal that's fair."

Yet the non-binding, unenforceable Paris treaty is far from the "draconian" economy-killer that Trump made it out to be, according to many policy experts and legal scholars.

Under the agreement, which entered into force last year, the US voluntarily committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.

America is already about halfway to meeting that target, in large part because cheaper, lower-carbon natural gas has replaced coal in many US power plants.

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