In the twelve months since President Trump announced U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, U.S. cities have accelerated their climate action, implementing new policies and programs and forging new partnerships that are paving the way for a more resilient, climate-safe future. Research shows cities can achieve a significant proportion of the emissions reductions needed by 2025 to meet the U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement.
“From Los Angeles to Houston and New Orleans to New York, cities have shown their unwavering commitment to realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said David Miller, C40 North America Regional Director and Ambassador for Inclusive Climate Action. “While the Trump administration continues to build roadblocks in an attempt to derail years of climate progress, cities across the U.S. continue to show us that they are still in. Mayors are on the frontlines, and together have shown great leadership in areas where the president has failed.”
Cities were on the frontlines of pushing back against President Trump’s decision on June 1, 2017, with hundreds of mayors pledging to adopt, honor and uphold the goals of the Paris Agreement. Mayors of C40 cities Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. affirmed their commitments to meet the emissions guidelines under the Paris Agreement.
Since that announcement, city climate action has accelerated, particularly in C40’s U.S. cities. Through C40’s Deadline 2020 program, Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington D.C. have committed to implementing ambitious climate action plans by 2020 that outline how the city will be emissions-neutral and climate resilient by 2050 while addressing inclusivity.
Cities have also made major investments in cleaner public transport, particularly around electric buses, the total cost of which has not only reached parity with diesel, but is now often lower, according to a new C40 and BNEF report. By signing C40’s Fossil Fuel Free Streets Declaration in October 2017, Los Angeles and Seattle pledged to purchase only zero-emission buses from 2025 and eliminate emissions in designated areas by 2030. In April 2018, New York City set a goal for an all-electric bus fleet by 2040. A previous study by Columbia University found this move could cut carbon dioxide emissions across the fleet by 575,000 metric tons per year. In May 2018, San Francisco committed to achieving a zero emissions public transportation fleet by 2035.
U.S. cities are even weighing in to protect climate science: when the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other departments began systematically removing mentions of climate change from their websites, cities across the country stepped up. Led by Chicago, seventeen major U.S. cities including C40 Cities Boston, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle announced their decision to upload the deleted information to their city’s websites.
Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, earlier today announced the $70 million American Cities Climate Challenge, a major new effort to expedite progress in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while growing local economies during a time of inaction from the federal government. The Challenge is open to the 100 most populous cities in America. The program will select the 20 cities that will lead America’s efforts to reduce climate emissions. Selected cities will participate in a two-year program designed to significantly deepen the impact of their efforts to tackle climate change.
“Mayors don’t look at climate change as an ideological issue. They look at it as an economic and public health issue,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “Regardless of the decisions of the Trump administration, mayors are determined to continue making progress. The Challenge will work with our country’s most ambitious mayors to help them move further, faster towards achieving their climate goals.”